Wildcats will open 2018-19 season in Champions Classic in Indianapolis against Duke

Vicky Graff Photo

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Already one of the premier events of the college basketball season, the annual State Farm Champions Classic’s spotlight is about to get even brighter with the announcement Wednesday that the event will tip off the 2018-19 season.

The event, which features Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and Michigan State, will move up a week next season to Nov. 6, coinciding with the new start of the college basketball season.

“The Champions Classic has been the gold standard for college basketball’s regular-season events for the last seven years, but I love what we’re doing to use it to tip off the basketball season,” UK men’s basketball head coach John Calipari said. “What better thing for our sport than to begin the year with four of the most successful programs in college basketball. Now, it might not be the best thing for my team, but the good news is we’ll all be learning about our teams at the same time while taking this thing to the next level. I know our fans will turn Indianapolis blue next fall.

The 2018 Champions Classic, which will continue to be a neutral-site doubleheader, will feature UK vs. Duke and Michigan State vs. Kansas. Indianapolis’ Bankers Life Fieldhouse will serve as the backdrop for the 2018 games, with the 2019 Champions Classic returning to Madison Square Garden in New York.

“We feel that there is natural connection to the start of the season and to the State Farm Champions Classic,” Clint Overby, vice president of ESPN Events, said in a release. “These four schools have come together to help build an exciting stage to launch the college basketball season.”

The Champions Classic will be in its eighth season in 2018 with Kentucky and Duke leading the way with 4-3 records. Kansas and Michigan State are 3-4 in the series.

Since the Champions Classic began in 2011, all four teams have reached the NCAA Final Four at least once, with Kentucky and Duke winning national titles, in 2012 and 2015, respectively. Over the last 14 games of the Classic, there have been 13 top-25 matchups, including two games featuring No. 1 vs. No. 2 (according to the AP Top 25).

The four schools feature a combined 18 NCAA national titles (Kentucky [eight], Duke [five], Kansas [three] and Michigan State [two]) and a total of 56 NCAA Final Four appearances (Kentucky [17], Duke [16], Kansas [14] and Michigan State [nine]).

Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis and New York have served as the hosts of the Champions Classic. Indianapolis will host for the second time in the event’s history. In the previous stop, in 2014, Kentucky trounced Kansas 72-40.

UK has played Duke in the Champions Classic two times. The Blue Devils defeated the Wildcats 75-68 in 2012 in Atlanta but Kentucky beat Duke 74-63 in 2015 in Chicago.

The Wildcats lead the all-time series vs. Duke 12-9.

1 comment

  1. I like that set up, if this year team keeps struggling I look majority of the player’s to be back to kick the blue devil’s butt. Mike K days as a coach is drawing to near retirement I got a lot of respect for him what he has done for the game.

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