Looking back, Kansas associate athletic director Larry Keating says it was something of an accident that KU played the toughest basketball schedule in the country last season -- the toughest schedule, according to some metrics, in years.
But as Keating, KU’s chief basketball schedule-maker, puts the finishing touches on another nonconference slate, the framework is in place for another grind of a schedule.
Kansas is poised to face presumptive preseason No. 1 Kentucky at the Champions Classic in Indianapolis, and travel to marquee nonconference road tests at Georgetown and Temple. The Jayhawks will also play host to UNLV at Allen Fieldhouse, and could face a potential rematch with Florida in the Big 12-SEC Challenge. The Big-12-SEC challenge matchups are expected to be released this week, and the Jayhawks’ opponent is still unknown. But with KU already facing Kentucky next season, another game against Florida would provide the most attractive matchup for television. Nothing official yet, though.
Finally, Kansas appears slated to face Pac-12 foe Utah in the annual home game at the Sprint Center on December 13. Keating did not publically confirm the game — announced last December by Utah — but says it will be a team that “is better than we thought when we scheduled them.”
The Jayhawks will also play three games at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando beginning Nov. 27, where they could be in line to face a rebuilding Michigan State program. The eight-team field also features Georgia Tech, Marquette, Rhode Island, Rider, Santa Clara and Tennessee. The bracket will be announced at a later date.
“Having the No. 1 schedule isn’t necessarily our goal,” Keating said. “(But) it’ll be pretty tough this year as well.”
Kansas is expected to release its full nonconference slate — with dates and times — later this month. But the Champions Classic matchup with Kentucky is slated for Nov. 18, while the home game against UNLV will fall in the usual early January time slot scheduled around the NFL playoffs.
The schedule, Keating says, fits his general philosophy of playing two marquee games at home, two on the road and one at a neutral site. The trips to Georgetown and Temple also meet KU coach Bill Self’s desire to get into prime East Coast markets for recruiting purposes. The Jayhawks will face Georgetown at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C., while taking on Temple off-campus at Wells-Fargo Arena, the home of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers.
Last season, the Jayhawks played a nonconference schedule that included SEC Champion Florida, Big East champion Villanova, Mountain West champion San Diego State, as well as Duke, Colorado and New Mexico.To reach Rustin Dodd, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter.com/rustindodd.