The annual event was canceled publicly last year because of the pandemic, but is set for 7 p.m. on Oct. 15 at Rupp Arena. The Blue-White game will be a week later ay 7 p.m. on Oct. 22., also at Rupp Arena.
The school continues to monitor the latest health and safety protocols from local and national officials, but plans to operate a full capacity this year. Tickets to made will be free, but won’t be distributed in person at Memorial Coliseum as in the past. Plans for ticket distribution for both events will be announced at a lat4r date.
Presented by Papa John’s, Big Blue Madness will feature introductions of both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, practice drills, videos and more. This will be the 16th time Madness has been held in Rupp Arena. Last year’s event took place in Memorial Coliseum as a TV-only event for fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Wildcats will enter the 2020-21 season as a Final Four contender with one of the nation’s most experienced teams in the country. UK’s 2021-22 roster currently features a sixth-year graduate, a fifth-year graduate, a redshirt junior, six juniors, a redshirt sophomore, two sophomores, and three highly touted four- and five-star freshmen.
John Calipari’s squad will return 42.1% of its minutes, 41.9% of its scoring, 39.0% of the rebounds, 42.4 percent of the assists and 60.6 percent of the 3-pointers from last year. For comparison, the only two Calipari-coached Kentucky teams that returned more minutes and more points (in terms of percentages) than the 2021-22 team is slated to return were the 2011-12 national championship squad and the 2014-15 Final Four team that started the season 38-0.
The women’s squad returns a large chunk of their production from the 2020-21, including consensus first-team All-America honoree Rhyne Howard. Howard averaged 20.7 points per game last season, adding 7.3 rebounds per game and a team-best 91 assists. Kentucky's third, fourth and fifth-leading scorers also return in Dre'una Edwards, Robyn Benton and Blair Green. Point guard Jazmine Massengill, who missed the first half of the season due to NCAA transfer rules after finishing second on the team in assists per game. In all, UK returns 70 percent of its scoring, 3-pointers made and assists, while it brings back 64 percent of its rebounding and 60 percent of its steals.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.