LAWRENCE – Kansas men’s basketball annually plays one of the toughest nonconference schedules in the nation and the 2017-18 slate is no exception. Six of KU’s 12 non-league opponents advanced to postseason play in 2016-17.
Three of KU’s 2017-18 nonconference foes – Kentucky, South Dakota State and Texas Southern – competed in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Texas Southern will be a campus matchup for the Hoophall Miami Invitational as will Oakland and Toledo. Oakland participated in the postseason NIT, while Toledo advanced to the College Basketball Invitational. Including the always-rugged Big 12 schedule, Kansas will have 16 games against teams that played in the postseason in 2016-17.
For the last eight 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 14 seasons. In that span, KU has had the nation’s toughest schedule three times: 2004-05, 2013-14 and 2014-15. Last year, KU ranked first nationally in opponents’ strength of schedule and fourth among the 351 NCAA Division I teams in RPI.
“Once again, I think we’ve put together a very competitive nonconference schedule,” KU head coach Bill Self said. “Anytime you have Kentucky and Syracuse on your nonconference schedule at neutral sites gives the appearance of a terrific schedule. There is a lot of Pac-12 flavor playing Washington in Kansas City, Arizona State in Lawrence and going to Sacramento to play Stanford. Those are three high-major programs. In the Big 12/SEC Challenge, Texas A&M is predicted to be a top-three team in the SEC this year. That will be a big test during league play.”
Following two home exhibition games against Pittsburg State (Oct. 31) and Fort Hays State (Nov. 7), Kansas will officially open the season hosting Tennessee State on Friday, Nov. 10. KU will then play six-straight games against teams that played in the 2017 postseason, starting with fellow blue-blood Kentucky in the Champions Classic on Nov. 14 at United Center in Chicago. KU and UK are meeting for the third-consecutive season and fourth time in the last five years. The United Center is the first of three NBA venues Kansas will compete in during the 2017-18 season, the others being in Miami and Sacramento.
Kansas returns to the friendly confines of Allen Fieldhouse to host 2017 NCAA Tournament participant and defending Summit League champion South Dakota State on Nov. 17. KU will then play its three Hoophall Miami Invitational campus-round contests with NCAA Tournament competitor Texas Southern on Nov. 21, NIT participant Oakland on Nov. 24, and Toledo on Nov. 28. Toledo competed in the 2017 College Basketball Invitational.
Kansas and national power Syracuse will be the feature matchup in the Hoophall Miami Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 2, at American Airlines Arena in Miami.
The annual Jayhawk Shootout will be the next stop for KU as it will host Washington on Dec. 6 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The Jayhawks will then return to Allen Fieldhouse when Arizona State visits on Dec. 10.
Kansas makes a return trip to former conference foe Nebraska on Dec. 16 in the Shelter Insurance Showcase. Nebraska used to play its games in the Bob Devaney Center but now calls Pinnacle Bank Arena home. The venue will be a first for KU and its first trip to Lincoln since Feb. 5, 2011.
KU will close out the calendar year hosting Omaha on Dec. 18 and playing Stanford on Dec. 21 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. The Cardinal are coached by former KU standout Jerod Haase and the 2017 meeting will be the second of a four-game series between KU and Stanford.
Kansas will conclude nonconference play on Saturday, Jan. 27, when it hosts former Big 12 foe Texas A&M in the Big 12/SEC Challenge, which was announced May 25.
Kansas is coming off an NCAA-record-tying 13-straight regular-season conference titles. The 2016-17 Jayhawks, 31-5 (overall) and 16-2 Big 12, won the CBE Hall of Fame Classic and entered the 2017 NCAA Championship as a No. 1 seed, advancing to the Elite Eight.
The Big 12 league schedule will be released in August. Season ticket sales for KU’s home games, including the Dec. 6 game against Washington at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, will be on sale at KUAthletics.com on June 12. To order season tickets, fans must be active members of the Williams Education Fund. For current men’s basketball season ticket holders, applications will be mailed in mid-June, with a deadline of July 7. Men’s basketball season tickets are limited and allocated according to Williams Education Fund policies and subject to availability. For more information, one may contact the Williams Education Fund at firstname.lastname@example.org or 785.864.3946.
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION
Pittsburg State (Oct. 31, Lawrence, exhibition)
Head coach Kim Anderson enters his first season at Pittsburg State. Before his three-year stint at Missouri, Anderson guided Central Missouri State to the NCAA Division II national championship in 2014. The Gorillas were 5-22 in 2016-17 and tied for 13th in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Association (MIAA) with a 3-16 record last year. Kansas is 10-0 all-time against Pittsburg State in a series that started in 1944. The Jayhawks are 6-0 against versus the Gorillas in exhibition play.
Fort Hays State (Nov. 7, Lawrence, exhibition)
Last season, the Tigers tied for fourth in the MIAA going 18-11 overall and 11-8 in conference play. Head coach Mark Johnson has a 322-149 record in 16 seasons at FHSU. Kansas is 9-0 all-time against Fort Hays State, including 6-0 in exhibition play.
Tennessee State (Nov. 10, Lawrence)
Tennessee State finished tied for fourth in the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) East Division going 17-13 overall and 8-8 in 2016-17. The Tigers are coached by Dana Ford who was the 2016 OVC Coach of the Year and has guided TSU to 37 wins in the last two seasons. Kansas won the only meeting with Tennessee State, 89-54, on Nov. 21, 2006, in a campus-round game of the Las Vegas Invitational, an event KU went on to win. Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer and KU graduate John McClendon coached at Tennessee A&I, now Tennessee State, from 1955-59.
Kentucky, Champions Classic (Nov. 14, Chicago)
These two blue bloods are meeting for the fourth-consecutive season. Under Hall of Fame coach John Calipari, Kentucky is coming off a 32-6 season where it won the SEC title with a 16-2 record. The Wildcats advanced to the NCAA South Regional final falling to eventual national champion North Carolina, 75-73. The Champions Classic will mark the ninth meeting between the two schools in the Kansas head coach Bill Self era at KU. The Jayhawks hold a 5-3 advantage in that span and has won the last two matchups. Kentucky leads the overall series with Kansas, 22-8. Last season, with ESPN College Gameday originating from Lexington, Kentucky, No. 2 Kansas defeated No. 4 Kentucky, 79-73, at Rupp Arena on Jan. 28 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
South Dakota State (Nov. 17, Lawrence)
South Dakota State won the Summit League tournament title in 2016-17 going 18-17 (8-8 in conference play which tied for fourth in the league). The Jackrabbits lost to eventual NCAA Runner-up Gonzaga, 66-46, in the opening round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament. SDSU is coached by T.J. Otzelberger who took the Jackrabbits to the NCAA Tournament in his first season. Otzelberger is a former Iowa State assistant coach. Kansas won the only meeting with South Dakota State, 85-72, on Dec. 4, 1984, in Allen Fieldhouse.
Texas Southern, Hoophall Miami Invitational campus round (Nov. 21, Lawrence)
Located in Houston, Texas Southern won the SWAC regular season and conference tournament in 2016-17 going 23-12 and 16-2 in league action. The Tigers lost to eventual NCAA champion, North Carolina, 103-64, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. TSU is coached by Mike Davis who is 98-68 in five seasons at TSU and 335-219 in 17 seasons overall with stints at Indiana and UAB before taking over at TSU. The Tigers have won at least one SWAC title, either regular-season or tournament, in every season Davis has been at Texas Southern. Kansas is 3-0 all-time against Texas Southern with the last meeting on Jan. 3, 1985, a KU 78-74 win in Allen Fieldhouse.
Oakland, Hoophall Miami Invitational campus round (Nov. 24, Lawrence)
Oakland went 25-9 last season and tied Valparaiso for the Horizon League title with a 14-4 conference record. The Grizzlies defeated Clemson in the opening round of the postseason NIT before falling at Richmond in the second round. Oakland is coached by Greg Kampe who has coached 33 seasons at Oakland with a 583-424 record. His 33 seasons at Oakland are the third-most seasons with a current school behind Jim Boeheim of Syracuse (41 seasons) and Mike Krzyzewski of Duke (37 seasons). Kansas won the only meeting with Oakland, 89-59, on Nov. 25, 2009, in Allen Fieldhouse. The game was a campus round contest which was part of the Hall of Fame Showcase.
Toledo, Hoophall Miami Invitational campus round (Nov. 28, Lawrence)
Toledo is coming off a 17-17 season where it finished third in the Mid-American Conference West Division with a 9-9 record and competed in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) postseason losing at George Washing in the first round. The Rockets are coached by Tod Kowalczyk who will be entering his eighth season at Toledo with a 119-110 record. Kansas has won both meetings with Toledo with the last being a 93-83 win on Dec. 30, 2013, in Allen Fieldhouse. The other was a 68-58 KU win on Dec. 9, 2006, in KU’s final game in Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri.
Syracuse, Hoophall Miami Invitational (Dec. 2, Miami)
The third annual Hoophall Miami Invitational will have two Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame coaches square off in Kansas’ Bill Self, a 2017 inductee, and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim who was part of the 2005 class. Last season the Orange went 19-15 and tied for seventh in the ACC with a 10-8 league record. Syracuse lost to Ole Miss, 85-80, in the second round of the postseason NIT. Boeheim is 903-354 in 41 seasons at Syracuse, his alma mater. Syracuse holds a 3-2 series advantage over Kansas, has won the last two meetings and three of the last four matchups. In the last battle the Orange defeated the Jayhawks, 89-81 in overtime on Nov. 25, 2008, in the title game of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The previous was an 81-78 win in the 2003 NCAA national championship game in New Orleans.
Washington, Jayhawk Shootout (Dec. 6, Kansas City, Missouri)
Washington is coming off a 9-22 season where it placed 11th in the Pac-12 Conference with a 2-16 record. Mike Hopkins took over the head coaching duties on March 19, 2017, after spending 22 seasons as an assistant coach at Syracuse. Kansas is 8-1 against Washington and has won the last four meetings. The Jayhawks last defeated the Huskies, 73-54, on Nov. 24, 2008, in the semifinals of the CBE Hal of Fame Classic in Sprint Center.
Arizona State (Dec. 10, Lawrence)
KU will face its second of three Pac-12 Conference opponents when it plays host to Arizona State. The game will the first of a home-and-home series as KU will play at ASU on Dec. 22, 2018. Arizona State went 15-18 in 2016-17 and placed eighth in the Pac-12 with a 7-11 record. The Sun Devils are coached by former Duke standout Bobby Hurley who is 30-35 in two seasons at ASU and 72-55 in four seasons for his career. Kansas has a 5-4 series edge against Arizona State. The Jayhawks have won two straight and five of the last six meetings. KU last faced ASU on March 22, 2003, a 108-76 win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Oklahoma City. KU would go on to play for the 2003 NCAA title in New Orleans.
Nebraska (Dec. 16, Shelter Insurance Showcase, Lincoln, Nebraska)
These two former conference foes are meeting for the second time since Nebraska left the Big 12 following the 2010-11 season. Husker head coach Tim Miles enters his sixth season and the Huskers are coming off a 12-19 season where they finished tied for 10th in the Big Ten Conference with a 6-12 record. Kansas leads the overall series with Nebraska, 171-71, and has won the last 18 meetings, from March 5, 1999, to Feb. 5, 2011, and 27 of the last 28 matchups dating back to the 1998-99 season. Last year Kansas defeated Nebraska 89-72 on Dec. 10, 2016, in Allen Fieldhouse.
Omaha (Dec. 18, Lawrence)
Omaha is coming off an 18-14 season in which it placed third in the Summit League with a 9-7 league record. The Mavericks lost to South Dakota State, 79-77, in the title game of the Summit League Tournament. Omaha head coach Derrin Hansen is 197-166 in 12 seasons with the Mavericks. KU and Omaha will be meeting for the first time in men’s basketball.
Stanford (Dec. 21, Sacramento, California)
Stanford second-year head coach Jerod Haase will face his alma mater for the second-straight season. Haase’s 1,264 points rank 33rd on the KU all-time scoring list and he also ranks on the Kansas career lists in 3-point field goals made (13th at 156), 3-pointers attempted (seventh at 461), assists (19th at 343) and steals (11th at 174). Last year the Cardinal went 14-17 overall and finished tied for ninth in the Pac-12 with a 6-12 record. Kansas leads the series with Stanford, 9-3, including last season’s 89-74 win on Dec. 3, 2016, in Allen Fieldhouse, ending a Cardinal two-game winning streak against KU. This series dates back to 1932.
Texas A&M, Big 12/SEC Challenge (Jan. 27, Lawrence)
These two teams were members of the Big 12 from 1996-97 until Texas A&M moved to the Southeastern Conference (SEC) following the 2011-12 season. Head coach Billy Kennedy will enter his seventh year at Texas A&M. In 2016-17, the Aggies went 16-15 overall and finished tied for ninth in the SEC with an 8-10 league record. Kansas is 20-1 all-time against Texas A&M, including a 9-1 record in Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks are 3-1 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, having split with Florida in 2013-14 and 2014-15, as both teams claimed home victories, and Kansas sweeping Kentucky in 2015-16 and 2016-17. Dating back to 2007 against the Pac-12, Kansas has compiled a 5-2 record in the conference challenges.
Kansas Men’s Basketball 2017-18 Nonconference Schedule (home games in ALL CAPS)
Oct. 31 (Tuesday) – PITTSBURG STATE (exhibition)
Nov. 7 (Tuesday) – FORT HAYS STATE (exhibition)
Nov. 10 (Friday) – TENNESSEE STATE
Nov. 14 (Tuesday) – vs. Kentucky (Champions Classic, Chicago)
Nov. 17 (Friday) – SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
Nov. 21 (Tuesday) – TEXAS SOUTHERN (Hoophall Miami Invitational)
Nov. 24 (Friday) – OAKLAND (Hoophall Miami Invitational)
Nov. 28 (Tuesday) – TOLEDO (Hoophall Miami Invitational)
Dec. 2 (Saturday) – vs. Syracuse (Hoophall Miami Invitational, Miami, Fla.)
Dec. 6 (Wednesday) – WASHINGTON (Jayhawk Shootout, Kansas City, Mo.)
Dec. 10 (Sunday) – ARIZONA STATE
Dec. 16 (Saturday) – at Nebraska (Shelter Insurance Showcase, Lincoln, Neb.)
Dec. 18 (Monday) – OMAHA
Dec. 21 (Thursday) – vs. Stanford (Sacramento, Calif.)
Jan. 27 (Saturday) – TEXAS A&M (Big 12/SEC Challenge)
March 7-10 – Big 12 Championship (Kansas City, Mo.)
2018 NCAA Tournament Dates and Sites
March 11 – Selection Sunday
March 13-14 – First Four (Dayton, Ohio)
March 15 & 17 – First/Second Rounds (Pittsburgh, Pa.; Wichita, Kan.; Dallas, Texas; Boise, Idaho)
March 16 & 18 – First/Second Rounds (Charlotte, N.C.; Detroit, Mich.; Nashville, Tenn.; San Diego, Calif.)
March 22 & 24 – Regional (South at Atlanta, Ga.; West at Los Angeles, Calif.)
March 23 & 25 – Regional (East at Boston, Mass.; Midwest at Omaha, Neb.)
March 31 & April 2 – Final Four (San Antonio, Texas)