Surely you didn’t get enough of the best college basketball non-conference games for 2022, so made a part two! We’ll kick this list off with one of the biggest blue blood programs in the country in Kentucky as they play a few marquee games out of conference.
Kentucky vs Michigan
This game should be incredible as it goes overseas to the O2 Arena in London for the Basketball Hall of Fame London Showcase (Dec. 4). The Wolverines lost a couple of players to graduation, but were able to keep star big man Hunter Dickinson and give guard Kobe Buffkin some much needed playing time. They have Jett Howard — son of coach Juwan Howard — coming in as one of their better prospects, as well as three other players rated as four-star guys.
Kentucky brings back a healthy CJ Fredrick, Jacob Toppin, Sahvir Wheeler, Daimion Collins, Lance Ware, National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe. They bring in five-star players Chris Livingston and Cason Wallace who are potential NBA Draft prospects as well.
This could prove to be a rough and tumble game with Dickinson going up against the cadre of big men Kentucky will throw at him all game. It’s a completely different crowd of fans with the game being in England and the energy should be electric for this kind of game.
Kentucky vs UCLA
This game will take place in Madison Square Garden as part of the CBS Sports Classic (on Dec. 17). We’ve mentioned what you might be able to expect from the Wildcats, but UCLA brings its own set of challenges to the table.
The Bruins not only bring back starters like Tyger Campbell, Jaylen Clark, and Jaime Jacquez, but they bring in a couple five-star recruits in Adem Bona and Amari Bailey. This should be a fast-paced game and a good one right before the holiday break most of these schools will be taking the next week.
Kentucky vs Kansas
A battle of the blue bloods, this game is always great. No matter how “down” or how much rebuilding either team is going through, this game always delivers. This game is part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge and is being played on Jan. 28th. Kentucky blasted Kansas in their meeting last year 80-62, but the Jayhawks got the last laugh as they won the National Championship.
As mentioned above, Kentucky is bringing back quite a few veterans along with their new five-stars Wallace (guard) and Livingston (forward). They also have a couple other recruits and transfers who could make a difference.
Meanwhile, Kansas loses Christian Braun and Ochai Agbaji from their title team. However, the Jayhawks bring in five-star forward Gradey Dick as well as a few other four-star recruits. They also return key players in Joseph Yesufu, Dajuan Harris Jr., and KJ Adams Jr.
UCLA vs Maryland
The Bruins will participate in the Continental Tire Main Event (more on that in the next installment), but this game will take place in College Park on Dec. 14. This is a must-watch game as the Terrapins have a new coach and absolutely nothing to lose in this game.
The Bruins are expected to be the class of the Pac-12 this season, but don’t be surprised if the Terrapins put up a nice fight under new head coach Kevin Willard. The players have bought in and the Terps keep a fair amount of players with experience from last year’s squad, which should help them be competitive right away.
Michigan vs Virginia
This game is part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and should give us a good idea of how good the Cavaliers might be this season. This game is on November 29th, so it’s a nice post-Thanksgiving treat when there won’t be many other good games on the television.
While this won’t be an aesthetically pleasing game, it should be a good defensive one. Virginia’s Pack Line defense will try to slow down Michigan who will likely play its offense through their big man Dickinson in the post. If UVA can get its offense to catch up to its defense — an annual question and issue — then it should give the Wolverines all they can handle in this one.
Gonzaga vs Baylor
The likely West Coast Conference champs will travel to Sioux Falls to take on the like Big 12 champs in Baylor. This game is on December 2nd and will be another great post-Thanksgiving week dessert for everyone recovering from their food comas.
Gonzaga lost Chet Holmgren, but keeps WCC Player of the Year in Drew Timme. Baylor lost Kendall Brown and Jeremy Sochan to the NBA Draft, but bring back starting guards in LJ Cryer and Adam Flagler. Baylor also brought in top-10 recruit Keyonte George who will contribute immediately and should end up as a lottery pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
Gonzaga brings back a ton of talent in Julian Strawther, Hunter Sallis, Nolan Hickman, and Anton Watson. They brought in a single high school recruit, but grabbed two transfers in guard Malachi Smith from Chattanooga and big man Efton Reid out of LSU.
Baylor vs Arkansas
This is probably the biggest game in the Big 12/SEC Challenge even with the Kansas-Kentucky game happening. The two teams will meet in Waco on January 28th. Baylor will be the top Bears in the Big 12 and Arkansas is looking to be in the top tier of the SEC. The Razorbacks have three potential first-round draft picks and winning a game like this definitely boosts the resume heading into Selection Sunday.
With five-star recruits Jordan Walsh, Anthony Black, and Nick Smith Jr. in tow, Arkansas should be a tough team to beat. However, the only returning starter who got good minutes was Davonte Davis. This will be a good measuring stick for this team to see just how good they might be this season as this is a nice break from their SEC slate.
This is the second part of an ongoing series. Be sure to come back for the next installment.