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Kentucky releases non-conference slate

LSU v Kentucky

LEXINGTON, KY - MARCH 05: John Calipari the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats gives instructions to his team in the game against the LSU Tigers at Rupp Arena on March 5, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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Kentucky’s newly-unveiled non-conference schedule features a stretch of three-straight games against high-major opponents to end December as well as its annual date in the Champion’s Classic. The Wildcats, though, won’t play a true road game against a non-conference opponent until the SEC/Big 12 Challenge in January, though they do have three neutral-site games on the slate.

“We are going to have what could be the youngest team in the history of college basketball,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said in a statement. “We had to take that into account when building this year’s schedule. How do we prepare our guys to be at our best at the end of the season – which we’ve done nearly every year – while also putting them in a position to grow and succeed? I think we’ve done that with this schedule.

“When you look at who we will play, you’re talking about experienced teams that were in the postseason a year ago and bring back the core of their teams. This schedule is going to be a challenge for us, but my hope is it sets us up for a run at the end of the season.”

Kentucky will open on Nov. 12, against Vermont, at Rupp Arena before heading to Chicago and the United Center to face Kansas in what will no-doubt be one of the month’s most anticipated matchups. The Wildcats will then entertain five-straight mid-major teams in Lexington before facing Monmouth at Madison Square Garden.

Then comes the most challenging stretch, with Virginia Tech at home, followed by UCLA in New Orleans and Louisville back in Lexington.

Kentucky’s non-conference slate will probably rank among the more difficult for Power 5 schools, though the lack of true road games keeps the degree of difficulty depressed some. Still, games against Kansas, Virginia Tech, UCLA and Louisville - not to mention the later tip against a likely top-15 Mountaineers game - provides plenty of competition for the Wildcats.

Kentucky 2017-18 non-conference schedule

Nov. 10Utah ValleyLexingtonRupp Arena
Nov. 12VermontLexingtonRupp Arena
Nov. 14KansasChicagoUnited Center
Nov. 17East Tennessee StateLexingtonRupp Arena
Nov. 20TroyLexingtonRupp Arena
Nov. 22Fort WayneLexingtonRupp Arena
Nov. 26UICLexingtonRupp Arena
Dec. 2HarvardLexingtonRupp Arena
Dec. 9MonmouthNew YorkMadison Square Garden
Dec. 16Virginia TechLexingtonRupp Arena
Dec. 23UCLANew OrleansSmoothie King Center
Dec. 29LouisvilleLexingtonRupp Arena
Jan. 27West VirginiaMorgantown, W.Va.WVU Coliseum