By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer
The 2018-19 Kentucky basketball season ended too soon to suit the majority of the BBN when Auburn, a team the Cats had already beaten twice during the regular season, prevented the Cats from advancing to another Final Four 77-71 in OT in the Elite Eight. So, now Coach Calipari starts the process anew, just as he has done each of the 10 prior seasons with a substantially new team anchored by four returning playes, Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, E. J. Montgomery, and Nick Richards.
The new comers for the 2019-20 season include graduate transfer Nate Sestina and freshmen Kahlil Whitney, Tyrese Maxey, Johnny Juzang, Dontaie Allen, and Keino Brooks. In addition, the team will include walk on players redshirt freshman Zan Payne (returning for another season), Junior Riley Welch, and , Freshman Brennen Canada.
There 13 players, along with their coaches, appeared at Rupp Arena the past Friday evening for the traditional start of the season at the Big Blue Madness celebration. The quest for #9 resumes. The 2019-20 season will be the eighth season since the Cats captured #8, and with each additional season, the expectations of the BBN for the team to bring hope the hardware increases.
The University of Kentucky Basketball Schedule for the 2019-20 season includes 13 non-conference and 18 SEC games for the regular season. The Cats open against the pre-season #1 team, Michigan State a on neutral court, marking the second consecutive season to open in against the consensus pre-season favorite. Last season, the Cats opened against the pre-season #1 Duke Bluedevils, and the Cats were embarrassed, to put it mildly. The non-conference schedule includes games against Georgia Tech (Rupp), Utah and Ohio State in Las Vegas, and UL (Rupp). The remaining 8 non-conference schedule includes the usual assortment of cupcakes, all at Rupp.
The SEC schedule begins at Rupp against Missouri and ends on the road at Florida. The Cats will play home and home games against Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Auburn, and Georgia, and road games South Carolina, Arkansas, LSU, and Texas A&M. The Cats will play Missouri, Alabama, Mississippi State, and Mississippi at Rupp in their only meeting of the season.
PREDICTED 2019-20 RECORD
Preseason projections that I make are based solely upon how teams finished the previous season. (And my big blue bias that anticipates #9 at the beginning of every season).
Final Record: 36-4
Non-Conference: 11-2 with losses to Michigan State in game 1 and at Texas Tech in the Big 12/SEC Challenge in game 19.
SEC: 16-2 with losses at Auburn and Tennessee. However, in the SEC, there are five additional games with projected margins in single digits (at Arkansas (7), at LSU (2), Auburn (5), Tennessee (6), and at Florida (1).
SEC Tournament: 3-0 [SEC Tournament Champions]
NCAA Tournament: 6-0 [NCAA Tournament Champions (#9)]
Yes, dear friends, my blue tinted glassed are fixed and functioning just fine.