It was announced Thursday that UK, Duke, Kansas and Michigan State have agreed to renew the Champions Classic contract through 2016. The high-profile doubleheader will be held in Indianapolis in 2014, Chicago in 2015 and New York City in 2016.
"We are excited to continue and be a part of this season-opening event," UK head coach John Calipari said in a released statement. "The Champions Classic does a couple of things for our schedule. One, it allows us to play an early-season marquee game at a neutral site, which is important for our team to play in before the NCAA Tournament. Secondly, when you talk about Duke, Kansas, Michigan State and Kentucky, you're talking about four of the best programs in our sport. So it's a great event for our fans. We're happy we could renew it for three more years."
Kentucky will play Kansas next season in Indianapolis. The Wildcats will face Duke in Chicago in 2015 and Michigan State in NYC in 2016.
The event debuted during the 2011-12 season when UK defeated Kansas 75-65 at Madison Square Garden en route to an eventual rematch with the Jayhawks for the national championship.
Last season, the Cats fell 75-68 to Duke at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
Kentucky plays Michigan State on Nov. 12 in this year's event at Chicago's United Center.
Leading up to this year's Champions Classic, UK will be playing two games in three days against UNC Asheville and Northern Kentucky on Friday and Sunday at Rupp Arena. The game against Michigan State will be the Cats' third in five days, an NBA-like run for Calipari's squad.
"We had to," the UK boss said. "We needed more than one game to get ready for Chicago. That thing has built – it's taken on a life of its own."
Calipari is not a big fan of playing these events so early in the season when his roster tends to be much more inexperienced than the teams he is playing. But he indicated on Thursday that another marquee event involving UK could be announced in the near future.
"The other tournament will be the same way when you hear it, it'll take a life of its own too," he said. "
Rumors have circulated that Kentucky may take part in a game commemorating the historic 1966 Final Four clash between Texas Western (now UTEP) and the Wildcats.
"We've been approached about that. It's in our wheelhouse. It is something we're considering," Calipari said.
Future Champions Classic Matchups
Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 (Indianapolis)
Michigan State vs. Duke
Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015 (Chicago)
Kansas vs. Michigan State?
Kentucky vs. Duke
Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 (New York City)
Kentucky vs. Michigan State?
Duke vs. Kansas