Three months before the start of the new college basketball season, we already have an idea what two of the most intriguing non-conference games for the following year may be.
Indiana and Louisville have reached a tentative agreement to face each other at Madison Square Garden in the Jimmy V Classic in Dec. 2014, the Indianapolis Star reported on Wednesday. The following morning, Kentucky coach John Calipari hinted the Wildcats are working on setting up a non-conference game against UCLA for the 2014-15 season as well.
Neither game is likely to become official for months, but signs point toward both coming to fruition.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino confirmed the Indiana game, telling the Courier Journal, "Excited to be playing back in a special arena where we won back-to-back Big East championships." And Kentucky Sports Radio's Matt Jones reported that a series between UCLA and Kentucky is "all but done."
Though it's difficult to project how good any of these teams will be during the 2014-15 season without seeing who they recruit or who they lose to the NBA, games like these would be good for college basketball regardless. There's always built-in intrigue when the nation's most tradition-rich programs face one-another, and Kentucky, UCLA, Indiana and Louisville all qualify.
Both games would be advantageous from a recruiting standpoint for all the programs involved — especially the Cardinals and Wildcats.
Pitino recruits the New York area extensively, so it's good for Louisville to maintain a foothold there even if it will no longer be in the Big East beginning in 2014. And a trip to Los Angeles would be timely for Kentucky since the 2014 and 2015 recruiting classes out West are particularly strong and Calipari can promise a SoCal kid like highly touted wing Stanley Johnson a chance to play in front of friends and family.
Of course, the great irony is neither of these games likely happen were it not for the inability of Kentucky and Indiana to reach a longterm scheduling agreement last year. That was a shame for college basketball, but these matchups are potentially a nice consolation prize.
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