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Kentucky Will Play Duke, UNC And Kansas Non-Conference This Year

Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats looks on in the post game press conference after being defeated by the Wisconsin Badgers.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 04: Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats looks on in the post game press conference after being defeated by the Wisconsin Badgers during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 4, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Wisconsin defeated Kentucky 71-64. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Say what you want about Coach Cal and the Kentucky basketball program - but they do not shy away from tough competition. Thursday, ESPN's Jeff Goodman revealed that the Wildcats will be facing a serious non-conference slate in 2018-2019.

Goodman reports that Kentucky will be playing Duke, North Carolina and Kansas this coming season. The Wildcats will take on the Blue Devils in the Champions Classic, the Tar Heels in the CBS Classic and the Jayhawks in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. We're pretty sure that's the toughest trio that any team will be facing in its non-conference schedule each year.

Obviously, these games come in addition to what's sure to be a difficult SEC slate. The league was much more competitive last year than it has been in recent years.

Kentucky a year ago, finished with a 24-10 regular season record with a 10-8 mark in the SEC. The Wildcats were given a 5-seed in the NCAA Tournament but fell to 9-seed Kansas State in the Sweet 16. It was a down year in comparison to many of Calipari's other years with the program.

A year ago, Kentucky played Kansas in its third game of the year, falling 65-61. The Wildcats also took on Virginia Tech, UCLA and of course, Louisville, out of conference.

Kentucky has the second-ranked recruiting class in the country for 2018. The Wildcats have three five-star players - EJ Montgomery, Keldon Johnson and Immanuel Quickley - and one four-star player in Tyler Herro.