LEXINGTON, Ky. – The State Farm Champions Classic, perhaps the signature annual event of the college basketball regular season, will continue through 2022 with the Kentucky men’s basketball team a part of it.
The Champions Classic, a neutral-site doubleheader featuring UK, Duke, Kansas and Michigan State, has added three more years to the current series, which will be played in Indianapolis this season and New York next year. The additional three years will bring the event back to Chicago in 2020, New York in 2021 and Indianapolis in 2022.
UK, which will play Duke on Tuesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis to tip off the season, will get Michigan State in 2019, Kansas in 2020, Duke in 2021 and Michigan State in 2022.
“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,” said UK head coach John Calipari (pictured). "What better thing for our sport than to begin the year with four of the most successful programs in college basketball.”
The event has been one of the most-watched collegiate events since its inception in 2011 with millions of fans tuning in every year. The series, which pits four programs that have a combined 18 national championships, 56 Final Four appearances and four Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame coaches, has been tightly bunched. UK and Duke are tied with 4-3 records while Kansas and Michigan State are just a game behind at 3-4.
Over the last 14 games of the Champions Classic, there have been 13 top-25 matchups, including two games featuring No. 1 vs. No. 2 (according to the Associated Press Top 25). Tuesday’s UK-Duke matchup will be the first AP top-five matchup to begin two teams’ seasons since Calipari’s No. 3 UMass team defeated No. 1 Arkansas in 1994.
Kentucky is also still a part of the CBS Sports Classic, which is currently under contract through 2019. UK will play North Carolina on Dec. 22 in Chicago as a part of that series and Ohio State on Dec. 21, 2019, in Las Vegas.
The Wildcats will look to take the Champions Classic wins lead on Tuesday vs. Duke. That game is scheduled for a 9:30 p.m. ET tipoff on ESPN, after the Kansas-Michigan State matchup.
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught