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Two of the top programs in men’s college basketball will face off in a home-and-home series across the upcoming two seasons.
The Kentucky Wildcats will travel to the Gonzaga Bulldogs for a Nov. 20 showdown, and the Bulldogs will complete the return trip to face the Wildcats on the road in 2023, as Kyle Tucker and Dana O’Neil of The Athletic relayed Tuesday.
Tucker and O’Neil noted Gonzaga head coach Mark Few called in to a telethon that Wildcats head coach John Calipari was participating in to raise money for those impacted by flooding in Kentucky and revealed the news.
While Kentucky and Gonzaga have played just once—a Wildcats win in 2002—the two coaches are friends and faced each other four times when Calipari was with Memphis.
“For us, Drew [Timme], Julian [Strawther], Rasir [Bolton], they all made the decision to come back,” Few said. “These are the kinds of games they want to play in, so why not? It’s fun for them. It’s great for the sport. There are a thousand positives, and no negatives.”
Marquee nonconference games are nothing new for Gonzaga, which attempts to build a strong resume before its slate is watered down by West Coast Conference play.
The Bulldogs next season will also play Michigan State, Texas, Baylor and Alabama and will participate in the PK85 tournament in a bracket that features Duke, Florida, Purdue and West Virginia, per Tucker and O’Neil.
The Wildcats will face Michigan State, Michigan, UCLA, Louisville and Kansas too.
The November showdown figures to be one of the best in college basketball during the upcoming season.
After all, Gonzaga checked in at No. 2 and Kentucky No. 4 in ESPN’s Jeff Borzello’s Top 25 rankings July 26. There will be no shortage of star power with Timme, Strawther and Bolton on the Bulldogs side and Oscar Tshiebwe leading the way for the Wildcats.
Kentucky will be looking to bounce back from its shocking first-round NCAA tournament loss to Saint Peter’s, and a Top Five win early in the season would be a great way to do just that.
Gonzaga also lost earlier than expected in the tournament. The No. 1 overall seed reached the Sweet 16 but fell to Arkansas.