Miami Basketball big opportunity at Kentucky in ACC/SEC Challenge

Mar 26, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 26, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports tweeted on Wednesday morning that the Miami basketball team will travel to Rupp Arena to play Kentucky in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge next season. Kentucky has won three of the four games they have played versus Miami. Miami won the last meeting 73-67 at Rupp Arena in 2008.

The Miami basketball program is coming off its most successful season in program history. Miami finished the 2022-23 season 29-8 overall, was the ACC regular season Co-Champions with Virginia and advanced to its first Final Four in Program history. Kentucky finished 22-12 last season and third in the SEC.

The Wildcats were a six-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Kansas State eliminated Kentucky 75-69 in the NCAA Tournament East second round. Kentucky has not advanced past the second round of the NCAA Tournament since 2019. The CBS Sports Top 25 and 1 rankings have Miami 10th and Kentucky 17th.

Miami returns starting guards Nijel Pack and Wooga Poplar and forward Norchad Omier from the 2022-23 team. Florida State transfer Matthew Cleveland and 2022-23 sixth man Bensley Joseph are projected to be the other starters for Miami in 2023-24. Sophomore A.J. Casey is the projected sixth man for Miami next season.

Kentucky will have a very young team in 2023-24. Per Gary Parrish of CBS Sports, Antonio Reeves is the only returning player for Kentucky expected to start next season. Tre’ Mitchell transferred to Kentucky on Monday from West Virginia. The addition of Mitchell elevated Kentucky back into the CBS Sports Top 25 and 1.

Parrish projected five-star prospects Aaron Bradshaw, Justin Edwards and DJ Wagner to start in 2023-24 for Kentucky. Point guard Robert Dillingham is another 2023 Kentucky five-star signee. Kentucky signed seven players in their 2023 class. Four-star combo guard Reed Sheppard is the other 2023 Kentucky blue-chip signee.

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Playing Kentucky early in the season should benefit Miami. With a young team plus Mitchell, it will likely take time for Kentucky to gel as a team. The transfer portal has made having experience more important than it was 10 years ago when blue blood programs were successful with one-and-done rosters.