Notre Dame is thinking big when it comes to its men's basketball non-conference schedule this season.
Like, Big Blue Nation big.
On Thursday, Notre Dame and Kentucky announced that it will start a three-game series during the 2020-21 season. Notre Dame visits Rupp Arena on Dec. 12. The Wildcats make a return visit to Purcell Pavilion on Dec. 10, 2022.
The 2021 game — set for Dec. 11 — will be played at a yet-to-be determined neutral site (think Chicago or Indianapolis, maybe even New York).
“It is great to renew a series between two of the ‘blue bloods’ of college basketball,” coach Mike Brey said in a university release. "If our recent battles with Kentucky are any indication, these games should be appointment viewing for college basketball fans.”
Kind of like the last time the teams met, in 2015, at the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional final in Cleveland. Notre Dame was 32-5 and winners of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship. The Irish were looking to make their second-ever trip to the Final Four. Top-ranked and No. 1 seed Kentucky was undefeated (37-0) with a squad loaded with future pros (nine Wildcats went on to the NBA). Kentucky won 68-66. It was the most-watched college basketball game in cable television history.
Kentucky leads the all-time series 43-19. The teams last met in the regular season on Nov. 29, 2012 at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame wore black uniforms that night and won 64-50. Eric Atkins led the Irish with 16 points. Jack Cooley had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The Irish have never won (0-8) at Rupp Arena. They last played In Lexington on Jan. 18, 2003 when they were ranked No. 10. Kentucky, then No. 16, won 88-73.
Kentucky will be the main non-league addition to Notre Dame's 2020-21 schedule. That was supposed to be Georgetown, but the Hoyas backed off renewing the series between the former Big East colleagues. Notre Dame also will play Purdue, as it has every other year, in the annual Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis in December.