Kentucky Basketball: Comparing the Non-Conference Schedule to Previous Years

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Kentucky Basketball: Comparing the Non-Conference Schedule to Previous Years
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The Kentucky Wildcats' 2012-13 non-conference schedule has drawn the ire of many figures in college basketball. From Kentucky fans who want to see better home games to analysts that think John Calipari is ruining college basketball, the schedule is a hotbed of discussion this offseason.

CBS Sports college basketball insider Gary Parrish wrote this article criticizing the 2012-13 non-conference schedule, saying there is "exactly one interesting home game."

Lexington Herald-Leader sports writer John Clay wrote this piece, saying the Rupp Arena schedule is "beyond weak."

But why all the fuss? 

Sure, the non-conference slate isn't as good as last year. But last year was well above the norm. Louisville, North Carolina and St. John's all came to Lexington. Compare that to this year, and you can see why season ticket holders feel slighted.

The last statement is the exact problem with the argument that this schedule is "weak." Weak compared to what? Last year, obviously. But in years where the Wildcats played North Carolina and Louisville on the road, this home slate appears to be stronger than the norm.

Let's take a look at the 2010-11 schedule, Calipari's second year in Lexington. The home schedule looked like this: East Tennessee State, Boston, Indiana, Mississippi Valley State, Winthrop, Coppin State and Pennsylvania.

No one was clamoring for a schedule change then. Season ticket holders weren't feeling slighted in the least. But this year, with a better slate of home games, there seems to be more bickering.

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However, in 2010-11, there were more road games. Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones burst onto the scene in Maui, which may have helped local fans jive with the weak home slate.

So, let's take a look at the 2008-09 schedule. These years are "off-years," where Kentucky would be playing Louisville and North Carolina on the road. The 2008-09 season was Billy Gillispie's last as head coach of the Wildcats, but the schedule was, once again, no better than 2012-13.

That non-conference season saw these teams come to Rupp Arena: Virginia Military, Delaware State, Longwood, Lamar, Miami (FL), Mississippi Valley State, Indiana, Tennessee State, Florida Atlantic and Central Michigan.

Miami was the only ranked team that came to Rupp. The Indiana rivalry was hardly a rivalry that year, as the Hoosiers went 6-25 on the year.

So why complain now? Kentucky will play nine opponents at home in the non-conference portion of their schedule, compared to ten in 2011-12 and seven in 2010-11. 

The only legitimate beef season ticket holders have this season is increased ticket prices for home games. But there is a long line waiting if any season tickets were to become available. 

Who wouldn't want to see Baylor in Rupp Arena next season? Or Marshall, the C-USA favorite? How about LIU Brooklyn, the third-best scoring team in the nation last year?

Dig a little deeper, Big Blue Nation. You'll find that home games in 2012-13 aren't all that bad.

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