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John Calipari on SEC schedule: ‘Was there any doubt we were going to Rupp Arena?’

IMG_0985by:Griffin McVeigh05/15/24


There are plenty of basketball rivalries for Arkansas, especially with the SEC adding Texas and Oklahoma this season. But one game sticks out more than the others due to John Calipari. A trip to Rupp Arena to face Kentucky will likely be the most anticipated game of the SEC season, mainly since it’s taking place in Lexington.

Everyone wondered where the game would take place but Calipari is not surprised at all.

“Was there any doubt that we were going to Rupp Arena? In one way, I look forward to it. In another, I’m not going to look forward to it,” Calipari said.

Arkansas and Kentucky have played four times in the past two seasons and all of them have occurred during the regular season. Those trips have been split down the middle between Bud Walton Arena and Rupp Arena. But with the new scheduling model in the SEC, there was likely only a spot for one game between the two.

An official date has not yet been released, coming later in the summer from the SEC. Whether or not the game is played on a Saturday will be another storyline. Kentucky fans will be hoping for a primetime atmosphere compared to getting stuck on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

John Calipari impressed with strength of entire SEC

The Kentucky matchup stands out more than any other but Arkansas still has 17 other SEC games to play in 2024-2025. Calipari is impressed with the strength of the SEC heading into the season, saying it’s strong from top to bottom. Factor in who the Razorbacks will be twice and Calipari knows a tough schedule is ahead.

“The league, top to bottom, is as good as it gets,” Calipari said. “It was that way last year. There’s no easy games and you just add Oklahoma and Texas? We got Texas twice and Missouri twice and LSU twice. So, top to bottom.”

SEC opponents will dictate how Calipari manages the nonconference schedule as well. While he wants a few high-profile games to put Arkansas out there in front of a national audience, he understands the conference slate will provide plenty of challenges.

“That’s why I got to go through this schedule and can’t be too top-heavy but you do want to have a schedule that challenges you and also puts you on national television,” Calipari said. “Puts you out there where people want to see it.”