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Kentucky will play Notre Dame next three seasons

John Calipari expects a “great series” with Notre Dame. (Vicky Graff Photo)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A once annual college basketball rivalry is returning to the Kentucky men’s basketball schedule. UK has agreed to a three-year series with Notre Dame beginning with a home game in Rupp Area on Dec. 12 for the 2020-21 season. The series will also include a neutral-site event in 2021 and a road game in South Bend, Indiana, in 2022.

The teams will meet for a neutral-site game on Dec. 11, 2021 at a site yet to be determined. UK will travel to South Bend, Indiana, on Dec. 10, 2022. Game times and television designations for all three games will be announced at a later date.

“If our previous games are any indication, this is going to be a great series,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “I can remember playing Notre Dame in 2010 in Freedom Hall and Ben Hansbrough going crazy in the first half and Terrence Jones willing us to victory in the second half. We went to South Bend a couple years later and that place was nuts. The football team was there and they thumped us. And then the game in 2015 in the Elite Eight was one of the best all-around games I’ve been a part of. Elite play from both teams.

“I’ve got a feeling these three games are going to provide some similar battles. Mike Brey is a terrific coach who always builds teams that are going to fight and give you everything they’ve got. I really like how our nonconference schedule is coming together for the next few seasons.”

The revival of this historic series was initiated by JMI Sports, who will be the promoter of the neutral site game in 2021. JMI Sports is the exclusive multi-media rights holder at Kentucky and shares comparable rights with Legends at Notre Dame.

The Wildcats and Irish have played in an on-again, off-again series for more than 80 years. UK leads the series by a 43-19 margin and won the last matchup between the two schools in an epic showdown in the NCAA Tournament for the right to move on to the Final Four in 2015. UK prevailed 68-66 thanks to late defensive heroics by Willie Cauley-Stein and clutch plays down the stretch by Aaron and Andrew Harrison.

Kentucky and Notre Dame have only met eight times in Lexington, Kentucky, with the Cats coming out on top in every meeting. UK leads the series 10-6 in South Bend, Indiana, but the Irish have won two straight in the series at home, including a 64-50 win in 2013.

The Wildcats currently have dates now set with nine opponents for the 2020-21 season.

  • Kansas – Nov. 10 | United Center (Chicago) | Champions Classic
  • Detroit Mercy – Nov. 13 | Rupp Arena | Bluegrass Showcase
  • Hartford – Nov. 17 | Rupp Arena | Bluegrass Showcase
  • Georgia State – Nov. 20 | Rupp Arena
  • Richmond – Nov. 23 | Rupp Arena | Bluegrass Showcase
  • Georgia Tech – Nov. 27 | State Farm Arena (Atlanta) | Holiday Hoopsgiving
  • Cleveland State – Nov. 30 | Rupp Arena
  • Notre Dame – Dec. 12 | Rupp Arena
  • UCLA – Dec. 19 | TBA | CBS Sports Classic

Other nonconference matchups for this upcoming season will include the annual rivalry game vs. Louisville and the annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge. A date has not been finalized for the former and an opponent has not been determined for the latter.

The nonconference schedule will give way to the typically difficult Southeastern Conference slate. The league schedule has not been announced yet, but UK will play its permanent home-and-away opponents of Florida, Tennessee and Vanderbilt twice, plus host and visit two additional league opponents. The Wildcats will face the remaining eight SEC opponents once.

The league has earned 15 berths in the last two NCAA Tournaments, the conference’s best two-year stretch. The SEC was slated for another impressive haul last season until the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the postseason.

Kentucky will take on that difficult schedule with what will be one of the most inexperienced rosters of the Calipari era. UK will be tasked with replacing 94% of its scoring from last season – most of the Calipari era – 92.4% of its minutes, 84.4% of its rebounds, 92.0% of its assists and 91.5% of its blocks.


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  1. I remember back in the 70″s Joe Hall kick there butt every time we play them. If I remember right they were rank 1 one year and no body gave the cats much of chance of beating them we in up blowing them out of gym. If there’s another coach that hated KY besides Bobby Knight that would be Digger Phelps he wasn’t fond of the cats either.

  2. We were at the last game when we played Notre Dane. It was wild. I believe their fans are as good or as bad as UK fans.

    1. Was a game I thought for a while Cats were going to lose

  3. Notre Dame was usually a tough game, but in Dec. 77, we were whooping them bad and then James Lee threw down a monsterous dunk early in the second half and Phelps asked one of the refs if they had to finish the game?

    1. UK kicked butt that game

      1. We kicked everybody’s butt that year, except for Bama at Bama and a one point overtime loss at LSU.

  4. They were almost as much of a rival as Indiana back in the day, with Digger and prayers like Kelly Tripucka. Loved beating them. Good to have this rivalry back.

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