From UK Athletics
Four of the nation’s best will continue to play during opening week of college basketball season
LEXINGTON, Ky. – College basketball’s season-opening marquee event, the Champions Classic, which has pitted the best against the best for the last six seasons, was renewed and will continue through the 2019 season. Kentucky will continue to be a part of it.
The Kentucky men’s basketball program, in conjunction with Duke, Kansas, Michigan State and ESPN, will continue the doubleheader series through the 2019 season. The event began in 2011 in esteemed Madison Square Garden in which Kentucky earned a 75-65 win over Kansas, while Duke prevailed over Michigan State. The teams have rotated opponents along with varying cities allowing fans all across the country to watch one of the nation’s premier basketball events.
“We’re excited and honored to be a part of the Champions Classic for another three years,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “It’s become one of the premier college basketball events on the national schedule every year. You’re talking about four blueblood programs playing on a neutral, NCAA Tournament-like stage. I know our fans love traveling to those cities. It’s always a tough way for a young team like ours to face those types of teams that early, but it’s a great opportunity for us to learn and to prepare for that type of environment down the road.”
The doubleheader event will be played in Chicago (2017), Indianapolis (2018) and New York (2019). It will also continue to be the final event of ESPN’s College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon that provides more than 24 hours of consecutive basketball coverage to mark the start of college basketball season.
This year’s sixth edition of the event is slated for Nov. 15 in Madison Square Garden. Kentucky will take on Michigan State at 7 p.m. Duke and Kansas will follow approximately 30 minutes following the conclusion of the opening contest.
Kentucky is 3-2 all-time in the event, which includes the memorable 72-40 win over fifth-ranked Kansas in 2014 to spark the beginning of a 31-0 regular season. The Michigan State vs. Kentucky game in 2013 was the most-watched Champions Classic game ever. It pitted the No. 1-ranked Wildcats vs. the No. 2-ranked Spartans in the first regular-season matchup between the two top-rated teams since 2008. Kentucky’s matchup with Duke in 2015 was the most-watched game in all of college basketball during the 2015-16 season.
The Champions Classic features three of the top four all-time winningest college basketball programs, including UK. The four schools in the event have combined for 18 NCAA championships and 57 Final Four appearances.
For more information about the series please visit the event’s official website.