Hilltoppers announce Wade Houston Tipoff Classic bubble opponents

WKU graduate guard Camron Justice (5) battles for a loose basketball with Louisville graduate guard Lamarr “Fresh” Kimble (0). The Cardinals defeated the Hilltoppers 71-54 in Bridgestone Arena on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Nashville.

Kaden Gaylord

WKU Men’s Basketball officially announced Tuesday three non-conference games in a bubble hosted by the University of Louisville, including a Dec. 1 matchup with the Cardinals and two other games against 2020 conference champions.

The Hilltoppers will face Little Rock on Nov. 28, Louisville on Dec. 1, and Prairie View A&M on Dec. 3 for its three games at the KFC Yum! Center.

Louisville is hosting the 2020 Wade Houston Tipoff Classic during that weekend, but WKU’s games will not officially be a part of the event.

WKU holds a 35-13 all-time lead in the series against old Sun Belt Conference foe Little Rock, although the programs have not met since 2014. The Hilltoppers are 2-0 on a neutral court against the Trojans.

Little Rock finished 21-10 last season and won the Sun Belt regular season title.

WKU’s game against Louisville on Dec. 1 will be a true road game and will count toward the teams’ ongoing four-year series. 

Louisville leads the all-time series 41-39, including a 71-54 victory last season in Nashville. They finished 24-7 before the COVID-19 pandemic halted the season.

The Cardinals are slated to return to Diddle Arena in the 2021-22 season before hosting WKU for another game in 2022-23. 

WKU has faced Prairie View A&M just once before, an 85-72 win in 1988. The Panthers went 19-13 last season and won the regular season championship.

There will be two practice courts available for teams within the bubble, including the practice court in the KFC Yum! Center and a full court that will be installed during the event in the Grand Ballroom of the Galt House Hotel. 

Teams may also use the court in the controlled Planet Fitness Kueber Center, U of L’s campus practice facility, during the event.  A weight room will also be temporarily set up in the Galt House for the teams.

With the exception of a possible bus trip for practice in the Planet Fitness Kueber Center, teams will not have to leave the dual facilities of the Galt House Hotel or KFC Yum! Center during their stay in Louisville. The hotel is connected by an elevated walkway directly into the arena.  

Teams will eat their meals in the Galt House and all teams will be staying in the East side of the Galt House, which features all suite rooms. Testing protocols will be in place for all participating teams and health protocols established by the ACC will be in place.

Game times and television assignments for the games have not been announced.

The rest of WKU’s nine-game non-conference schedule will be announced soon.

Men’s basketball beat reporter & columnist Kaden Gaylord can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Kaden on Twitter at @_KLG3.