Kentucky will play host to Kansas, an early preseason No. 1 team for 2018-19, in the next SEC-Big 12 Challenge.
The game, announced Thursday and featuring two of the bluest of college basketball’s blue bloods will be played Jan. 26. Other games in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge include West Virginia at Tennessee, Kansas State at Texas A&M and Texas at Georgia.
This week, CBSSports.com announced its top 25 rankings going into next season. Kansas was No. 1 and Kentucky No. 4.
Kentucky and Kansas boast the most victories in college basketball history with 2,263 and 2,248, respectively.
From earlier reports, it is known that next season Kentucky will also play the programs ranked third and fourth in all-time victories: North Carolina (2,232) and Duke (2,144). UK will play Duke on Nov. 6 in Indianapolis and North Carolina on Dec. 22 in Chicago.
In last season’s final Ratings Percentage Index, all three of those opponents were ranked in the top six: No. 3 Kansas, No. 5 Duke and No. 6 North Carolina.
The game against North Carolina figures to have an interesting subplot. Earlier Thursday, Luke Maye announced that he would withdraw from this year’s NBA Draft and play for UNC as a senior next season. Of course, Maye made the winning shot against Kentucky in the 2017 South Region finals in Memphis.
In a posting on Instagram, Maye said he decided to return to college in order to “improve as a player” and “finish the right way with two of the best players and leaders that I know!”
That was a reference to fellow seniors-to-be Kenny Williams and Cameron Johnson.
“Let’s finish our legacy the right away!” Maye posted before adding the the hashtag #RoadtoMinneapolis.
The 2019 Final Four will be in Minneapolis.
Kentucky leads the series with Kansas 22-9. Kansas beat Kentucky 65-61 last season in a mid-November game in Chicago that signaled that a UK team almost wholly dependent on freshmen could compete nationally.
The game in Rupp Arena on Jan. 26 will mark the 10th time Kansas has played Kentucky in Lexington. UK has won seven of the previous nine games in Lexington, although Kansas has won the last two (2016-17 and 2004-05).
Other games in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge next season will be Alabama at Baylor, Arkansas at Texas Tech, Florida at TCU, Iowa State at Ole Miss, South Carolina at Oklahoma State and Vanderbilt at Oklahoma.