Kansas non-conference schedule packs a punch

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas men’s basketball annually plays one of the toughest schedules in the nation and the 2016-17 slate is no exception as 10 of KU’s 12 non-conference opponents advanced to postseason play in 2015-16.

Four of KU’s 2016-17 non-league foes – Indiana, Duke, Kentucky and UNC Asheville – competed in the 2016 NCAA Championship. CBE Hall of Fame Classic opponents UAB, Georgia and George Washington, along with Davidson and Long Beach State, participated in the NIT, and Siena in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI). George Washington won the 2016 NIT. Including the always-rugged Big 12 schedule, Kansas will have 22 games against teams which played in the postseason in 2015-16.

For the last seven seasons Kansas has ranked no lower than fifth nationally in the final Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), which is one of the tools the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee uses in selecting the NCAA Championship field. Three of those times – 2010, 2011 and 2016 – the Jayhawks were ranked No. 1. KU’s strength of schedule has ranked in the top 10 in eight of head coach Bill Self’s 13 seasons, including fifth in 2015-16. In that span, KU has had the nation’s toughest schedule three times: 2004-05, 2013-14 and 2014-15.

“With this schedule, once again we will rank at the top of the toughest schedules in the nation,” Self said. “We’ll get our share of frequent flyer miles right off the bat playing Indiana in Honolulu and Duke in New York City. We’re playing 10 of our 12 non-league games against teams which went to the postseason last year, including four NCAA teams. This schedule, like in the past, will help us prepare for the always tough Big 12 season.”

Following two home exhibition games against Washburn (Nov. 1) and Emporia State (Nov. 7), Kansas will hit the road, air actually, for a pair of games about as far apart as possible. The Jayhawks will compete for the first time in the Armed Forces Classic against Indiana on Nov. 11 in Honolulu; they’ll then fly to New York City to play Duke in historic Madison Square Garden in the sixth Champions Classic Nov. 15.

Kansas returns to the friendly confines of Allen Fieldhouse to host Siena in one of two CBE Hall of Fame Host Games on Nov. 18. The second follows the Kansas City event when the Jayhawks host UNC Asheville Nov. 25. Sandwiched in between is the CBE Hall of Fame Classic at Sprint Center, where KU will play Nov. 21-22 against either UAB, Georgia or George Washington. This is the third time Kansas will compete in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic; the Jayhawks won the 2012 event and finished runner-up in 2008.

The Nov. 25 UNC Asheville game begins a six-game homestand. KU will play Long Beach State on Nov. 29, then former KU great Jerod Haase will bring Stanford to Allen Fieldhouse on Dec. 3. Haase will be in his first season as head coach at Stanford after a successful run at UAB.

On Dec. 6, UMKC will make its first trip to Allen Fieldhouse since the 2010-11 season, then former conference foe Nebraska will return to Lawrence on Dec. 6. This will be the 242nd game between Kansas and Nebraska, and the first meeting since Feb. 5, 2011.

Kansas will complete its homestand when it hosts Davidson in the Jayhawk Shootout at Sprint Center on Dec. 17. The shootout is part of the KU home ticket package.

KU will close out the calendar year non-conference slate when it travels to UNLV on Dec. 22. Kansas is making its first trip to Las Vegas since 2010 when it won the Las Vegas Invitational. Kansas will close out its non-conference portion of the season at Kentucky Jan. 28 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. The two teams have played seven times in the Self era with KU holding a 4-3 series edge in those contests.

Kansas returns three starters and eight letterwinners from a 33-5 team that won the school’s 12th-straight, 16th Big 12 and NCAA-leading 59th overall conference regular-season title with a 15-3 league record. The 2015-16 Jayhawks won the 2015 Maui Invitational and the 2016 Big 12 Championship, and entered the 2016 NCAA Championship as a No. 1 seed, advancing to the Elite Eight. Seniors Frank Mason III and Landen Lucas, along with junior Devonte’ Graham, are KU’s returning starters with Mason and Graham in the backcourt and Lucas in the frontcourt. Junior guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and sophomore forward Carlton Bragg Jr. return after also playing significant minutes in 2015-16. Additionally, KU welcomes one of the top-ranked recruiting classes that consists of guard Josh Jackson, center Udoka Azubuike and forward Mitch Lightfoot. Jackson was the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2016.

The Big 12 league schedule will be released in August. Season ticket sales for KU’s 18 home games, the 17 in Allen Fieldhouse and the Dec. 17 game against Davidson in Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, are on sale at KUAthletics.com. To order season tickets, fans must be active members of the Williams Education Fund, which can be done by making a minimum gift pledge of $100. For current men’s basketball season ticket holders, applications were mailed in late May. Men’s basketball season tickets are limited and allocated according to Williams Education Fund policy and subject to availability. For more information, one can contact the Williams Education Fund at WilliamsFund.com or 785-864-3946.

SCOUTING THE COMPETITION

Washburn, exhibition (Nov. 1, Lawrence)
Under 37-year head coach Bob Chipman, Washburn is coming off a 13-15 season in 2015-16, which included an 11-11 MIAA (NCAA Division II) record where the Ichabods tied for fifth. This 40-game series dates back to 1906 and Kansas leads 37-3, including 6-0 in exhibition battles. KU has won 11 consecutive against the Ichabods with the last Washburn victory in 1944.

Emporia State, exhibition (Nov. 7, Lawrence)
Emporia State went 13-16 overall and 10-12 in the MIAA (NCAA Division II) and placed 10th in 2015-16. The Hornets are coached by former Colorado standout Shaun Vandiver who will enter his sixth season at ESU in 2016-17. This 23-game series dates back to 1904 and Kansas leads 20-3, including 7-0 in exhibition contests. Kansas has won 10 straight against Emporia State with the last ESU win being in 1947.

Indiana, Armed Forces Classic (Nov. 11, Honolulu)
Under eighth-year head coach Tom Crean, the 2016 Big Ten Coach of the Year, Indiana went 29-8 last season, won the Big Ten regular-season title with a 15-3 league record and finished ranked 14th by Associated Press. The Hoosiers lead the overall series with Kansas 7-6 but the Jayhawks have won six of the last seven meetings. KU and IU last met in 1995 in Kansas City with the Jayhawks claiming a 91-83 victory on Dec. 16. This series dates back to 1940 with the first two meetings, both IU wins, in the NCAA title game in 1940 and 1953.

Duke, Champions Classic (Nov. 15, New York)
Preseason No. 1 by many for 2016-17, Duke went 25-11 last year and placed tied for fifth in the ACC with an 11-7 record. Under Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski, the Blue Devils advanced to the Sweet 16 of the 2016 NCAA Championship and finished ranked No. 19. Duke leads the series with Kansas 7-3 but the Jayhawks have won two of the last three meetings, including a 94-83 win in the 2013 Champions Classic in Chicago. This series dates back to 1985.

Siena, CBE Hall of Fame Classic Host Game (Nov. 18, Lawrence)
Under head coach Jimmy Patsos, who will enter his fourth season at Siena, the Saints went 21-13 in 2015-16 overall and lost in the opening round of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) to Morehead State (84-80). Siena went 13-7 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) last season, placing third. Kansas won the only meeting with Siena, 91-84, on Jan. 6, 2009, in Allen Fieldhouse.

UAB, potential CBE Hall of Fame Classic opponent (Nov. 21 or 22, Kansas City)
UAB welcomes first-year head coach Rob Ehsan who replaced former KU guard Jerod Haase who went to Stanford. The Blazers were 26-7 last season and won the Conference USA regular-season title with a 16-2 record. UAB fell to BYU, 97-79, in the first round of the 2016 NIT. Kansas leads the series with UAB 2-1. UAB won the first meeting, 50-46, on Nov. 25, 1984, in the title game of the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage. Kansas won the next two: 109-83 on Nov. 15, 1989 in the Preseason NIT and 100-74 on March 26, 2004 in the NCAA Championship in St. Louis.

Georgia, potential CBE Hall of Fame Classic opponent (Nov. 21 or 22, Kansas City)
Georgia head coach Mark Fox enters his eighth season at UGA. The Bulldogs went 20-14 last season and tied for sixth in the SEC with a 10-8 record. Georgia went 1-1 in the NIT defeating Belmont, 93-84, before falling at St. Mary’s, 77-65. Kansas has won all three meetings with Georgia in a series which dates back to 1992 with a 76-65 win in Allen Fieldhouse. The next two battles were neutral-site contests with KU winning 89-79 on Dec. 18, 1993, in Atlanta and 88-78 on Nov. 25, 1999, in the opening round of the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage.

George Washington, potential CBE Hall of Fame Classic opponent (Nov. 21 or 22, Kansas City)
George Washington won the 2016 NIT defeating Valparaiso, 76-60, in the title game at Madison Square Garden. GW posted a 28-10 record in 2015-16 and finished fifth in the Atlantic 10 Conference with an 11-7 mark. Colonials head coach Mike Lonergan completed his fifth season at GW in 2015-16. Kansas has won all three meetings with George Washington. The Jayhawks defeated the Colonials, 76-70, in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 22, 1984, and 94-71 the following year, Dec. 23, 1985, in Allen Fieldhouse. KU also defeated GW, 85-56, on Dec. 11, 1996, in Allen Fieldhouse.

UNC Asheville, CBE Hall of Fame Classic Host Game (Nov. 25, Lawrence)
UNC Asheville and Kansas have something in common in they both lost to eventual NCAA Champion Villanova in the 2016 NCAA Championship. The Bulldogs were 22-12 overall last season and tied for third in the Big South Conference with a 12-6 league record. UNC Ashville won the Big South Championship and entered its fourth-ever NCAA Championship a No. 15 seed. UNC Asheville fell to the second-seeded Wildcats, 86-56, in the two teams’ first game of the tourney in Brooklyn. Head coach Nick McDevitt enters his fourth season guiding the Bulldogs. Kansas is 3-0 against UNC Ashville in a series which dates back to 1994. All three meetings have been in Allen Fieldhouse with the Jayhawks winning 90-44 on Jan. 5, 1994, 105-73 on Dec. 15, 1996, and 102-50 on Jan. 2, 2003.

Long Beach State (Nov. 29, Lawrence)
Long Beach State went 20-15 last season and placed third in the Big West Conference with a 12-4 league record. Having lost in the Big West title game, LBSU competed in the 2016 NIT losing to Washington, 107-102, in the event’s opening round. The 49ers are coached by Dan Monson who enters his 10th season at LBSU. Kansas leads the four-game series with Long Beach State, 3-1. KU won the first two meetings, 69-52 on Dec. 1, 1970, in Allen Fieldhouse and 66-60 on Dec. 7, 1991, in Long Beach, California. The 49ers defeated KU, 64-49, on Jan. 25, 1993, in Allen Fieldhouse and Kansas won the last meeting, 88-80, on Dec. 6, 2011, also in Allen Fieldhouse.

Stanford (Dec. 3, Lawrence)
Stanford first-year head coach Jerod Haase will face his alma mater in Allen Fieldhouse on Dec. 3. Haase’ 1,264 points rank 32nd on the KU all-time scoring list and he also ranks on the Kansas career lists in 3-point field goals made (11th at 156), 3-pointers attempted (seventh at 461), assists (18th at 343) and steals (11th at 174). Last year the Cardinal went 15-15 overall and finished ninth in the Pac-12 with an 8-10 record. Kansas leads the series with Stanford, 8-3, but the Cardinal have won the last two meetings: 60-57 on March 23, 2014, in the NCAA Championship in St. Louis and 64-58 on Dec. 6, 2003, in the Wooden Classic in Anaheim, California. This series dates back to 1932 and KU is 4-0 versus Stanford in games played in Lawrence.

UMKC (Dec. 6, Lawrence)
UMKC fourth-year head coach Kareem Richardson hopes to improve the Kangaroos from their 12-19 record in 2015-16. The Roos were 4-10 in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) which tied for sixth in the league race. Kansas has won all six games against UMKC in a series which dates back to 1992. The Jayhawks are 4-0 versus the Kangaroos in Allen Fieldhouse with the last meeting being a KU 99-52 victory on Jan. 5, 2011, in Lawrence.

Nebraska (Dec. 10, Lawrence)
These two former conference foes are meeting for the first time since Nebraska left the Big 12 following the 2010-11 season. Husker head coach Tim Miles enters his fifth season and the Huskers are coming off a 16-18 season where they finished 11th in the Big Ten Conference with a 6-12 record. Former Kansas guard Andrew White III will be making a return visit to Allen Fieldhouse. White was a two-year letterwinner for KU in 2012-13 and 2013-14. Kansas leads the overall series with Nebraska, 170-71, and has won the last 17 meetings, from March 5, 1999, to Feb. 5, 2011, and 26 of the last 27 matchups dating back to the 1998-99 season. KU is 88-23 versus NU in games played in Lawrence, including 51-7 in Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks have won the last 12 home meetings with the Huskers.

Davidson, Jayhawk Shootout (Dec. 17, Kansas City)
Under 27-year head coach Bob McKillop, Davidson is coming off a 20-13 season where it placed sixth in the Atlantic 10 Conference with a 10-8 record. The Wildcats advanced to the NIT losing at Florida State, 84-74, in the event’s opening round. This two-game series (1-1) has had drama. Kansas defeated Cinderella Davidson, 59-57, in the NCAA Championship Elite Eight in Detroit, Michigan, on March 30, 2008. The Jayhawks would go on to win the 2008 NCAA National Championship in San Antonio. Davidson returned the favor with an 80-74 win on Dec. 19, 2011, in the Kansas City Shootout at Sprint Center. Later that season, KU would advance to the 2012 NCAA Championship game in New Orleans.

UNLV (Dec. 22, Las Vegas)
Marvin Menzies begins his first season at UNLV heading to Las Vegas after nine seasons at New Mexico State. Menzies inherits a team that finished 18-15 overall and tied for sixth in the Mountain West Conference with an 8-10 league record. Kansas is 5-0 against UNLV and this will be the first meeting between the two schools in Las Vegas. The series dates back to 1989 when KU defeated UNLV, 91-77, in the semifinals of the Preseason NIT in New York City. Kansas went on to win the event defeating St. John’s two days later. The next meeting was also part of a KU Preseason NIT title on Nov. 21, 1997, in Allen Fieldhouse, a KU 92-68 victory. Kansas defeated UNLV, 75-56, on March 22, 2008, in Omaha, Nebraska, en route to the 2008 NCAA National Championship. The last meeting was a Kansas 76-61 win in Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 4, 2015.

Kentucky, SEC/Big 12 Challenge (Jan. 28, Lexington, Kentucky)
Under Hall of Fame coach John Calipari, Kentucky is coming off a 27-9 season where it tied Texas A&M for the SEC title with a 13-5 record. The Wildcats advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship falling to Indiana, 73-67. The upcoming SEC/Big 12 Challenge will mark the eighth meeting between the two schools in the Kansas head coach Bill Self era at KU. The Jayhawks hold a 4-3 advantage in that span and Kentucky leads the overall series with Kansas, 22-7. Last season, with ESPN College Gameday originating from Lawrence, No. 4 Kansas defeated No. 20 Kentucky, 90-84 in overtime, at Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 30 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Kansas Men’s Basketball 2016-17 Non-Conference Schedule
Nov. 1 – Washburn (exhibition)
Nov. 7 – Emporia State (exhibition)
Nov. 11 – vs. Indiana (Armed Forces Classic, Honolulu)
Nov. 15 – vs. Duke (Champions Classic, New York City)
Nov. 18 – Siena (CBE Hall of Fame Classic Home Game)
Nov. 21 – UAB/Georgia/George Washington (CBE Hall of Fame Classic, Kansas City)
Nov. 22 – UAB/Georgia/George Washington (CBE Hall of Fame Classic, Kansas City)
Nov. 25 – UNC Asheville (CBE Hall of Fame Classic Home Game)
Nov. 29 – Long Beach State
Dec. 3 – Stanford
Dec. 6 – UMKC
Dec. 10 – Nebraska
Dec. 17 – Davidson (Jayhawk Shootout, Kansas City)
Dec. 22 – at UNLV
Jan. 28 – at Kentucky

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