Report: Kentucky basketball set to play Big Ten foe in London in 2020
Kentucky is set to play an interesting three-game series with Michigan, with a meeting next season in London, England.
The series was reported by Jon Rothstein of The New York Times, who added that, “A home-and-home series will follow starting in Ann Arbor in December 2021. There will be a return game at Rupp Arena in December 2022.”
Rothstein reported that the London game is scheduled for December 2020 at the O2 arena, a stadium that has been used by the NBA in recent seasons.
While college basketball teams, including SEC members, routinely play games in tropical destinations, London is something unique. The Pac-12 Conference has held games in China each of the past five seasons. In college football, Notre Dame and Navy plan to open next season in Ireland, at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Aug. 29, 2020.
This may bring up chatter of another home-and-home series with UK and another Big Ten team, Indiana, that went away in recent years. The teams have met most recently twice in the NCAA Tournament, but not played at their home arenas since IU won on a last-second shot in Bloomington in the 2011-12 season.
The Michigan-Kentucky series may have been sparked by Calipari’s relationship with first-year Michigan coach Juwan Howard, who has a longstanding relationship with Calipari that helped lead to the deal, Rothstein reported.
When Howard pursued the Michigan job last spring as an assistant coach with the Miami Heat, he reached out to Calipari as a confidant. Calipari was also instrumental in Howard’s decision to hire former St. Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli as an assistant coach.