Basketball: Wildcats coming to play Windsor, Western

Head coach Chris Oliver of the Windsor Lancers' men's basketball team had some interesting news in an e-mail release yesterday. Only a few weeks after deciding to stay at Windsor despite rumours of a move to McMaster, and earning a new contract in the process, Oliver has landed what should be one of the most intriguing exhibition matchups of this coming year; John Calipari's University of Kentucky Wildcats.

According to the release, the Wildcats will be coming north to Windsor from August 15-17, Sunday through Tuesday. They'll face the Lancers Sunday evening at 7 p.m., then face the Western Mustangs Monday night at 6 p.m. and then play the Lancers again Tuesday morning at 11 a.m. All games will be played at the university's St. Denis Centre; ticket prices are $10 for adults and youth, $5 for children. Advance ticket information is expected to be released soon through the university's website.

The Wildcats should be a fascinating matchup for Windsor and Western. They were a dominant team this year and one of the four #1 seeds in the NCAA tournament, falling in the Elite Eight to West Virginia. Yes, they will likely lose John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and up to three other players to this month's NBA Draft, but all indications suggest that they'll have an incredible group of recruits to replace them. Topping the list at the moment are Rivals' overall top prospect, small forward Mike Gilchrist, and Marquis Teague, Rivals' #2 overall prospect and #1 point guard prospect.

Update: Gilchrist and Teague are actually on the 2011 list of recruits (my fault for misreading), but
the 2010 class is just as impressive; it's currently ranked #1 overall by Rivals and features potential stars like forward Enes Kanter and point guard Brandon Knight. Thanks to Windsor assistant coach Barry Amlin for the heads-up!

Kentucky should be a team to be reckoned with this coming season, so their tour should be a nice moment for the profile of Canadian basketball, as well as Western and Windsor. Moreover, the Wildcats are likely to again rely on freshman talent this year, so these games may be crucial preparation for them as well.

It's not the first Canadian tour by an NCAA squad, as these games have become quite common over the last few years. It's likely not to be the only one this year too; Jeremy Cockrill mentioned on Twitter that the Minnesota Golden Gophers may be coming to play UBC and Trinity Western this preseason as well, and I'm sure there will be more announced in the coming days. These games can deliver a tremendous show when things work well, though, such as the August 2008 clash between NCAA champion Kansas and perennial CIS powerhouse Carleton, which the Jayhawks won 84-83. This tour might even have higher potential than that; Kentucky isn't defending a national championship, but that was a rebuilding Kansas team and this could be more accurately described as a reloading Wildcats' squad. These matches should be ones to watch.

[Cross-posted to Sporting Madness]
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  1. Hi Andrew, did the NCAA change the rules about these out of country trips again? I thought the NCAA had ended the loophole that allowed these games and that last season was the final year they could play in Canada.

  2. Hmm, that's interesting, Jason; I don't remember hearing about that rule change. This does certainly seem to be on, though; both ESPN ( and the Windsor Star ( now have stories about it. The Star's story seems to suggest that they changed a rule and then changed it again, as you proposed.

  3. The women are getting in on this NCAA-1 action as well.

    The Gee-Gees women will have a busy pre-season, opening with exhibition games against Tennessee Martin on the August 17 and Manhattan College on August 27 (both NCAA division 1 teams).