Nothing New: Kansas Men’s Basketball Non-Conference Schedule Loaded

LAWRENCE, Kan. – It is well documented that Kansas’ men’s basketball schedule has been the toughest in the nation each of the last two seasons. That trend will not change with the 2015-16 non-conference schedule KU announced Thursday.
This season Kansas could potentially play 18 games against teams that competed in the 2014-15 NCAA Tournament. Six of those teams could appear on KU’s non-conference slate.
Three upcoming KU foes won their conference regular season in 2014-15. The 2015-16 non-conference slate, paired with its home-and-home meetings against Big 12 competition, will help keep Kansas’ schedule among the nation’s toughest. The Jayhawks’ strength of schedule has ranked 10th or higher in five of the last six seasons.
Strength of schedule is a factor in the RPI, one of the tools the NCAA Basketball Committee uses to select and seed teams in the NCAA Tournament. Kansas’ RPI has checked in at No. 5 or better in each of the last six seasons, including No. 1 in 2010 and 2011.
“It’s obviously another solid schedule,” KU head coach Bill Self said. “The last two years we played the toughest schedule in the country. This year we feel like, once again, this will be a schedule that will be one of the nation’s best. What jumps off the page is Michigan State, who went to the Final Four, all the possibilities of matchups at the Maui Invitational and the other teams who advanced to the postseason (last year) like Harvard, San Diego State, Montana and UC Irvine. San Diego State has always been a national power. The Big12/SEC Challenge game, which we will host, and all the others will certainly be great preparation for us going into what will, once again, be a terrific Big 12 Conference slate.”
Historic Allen Fieldhouse celebrated its 60th anniversary last season and will play host to seven non-conference home games in 2015-16, the final being the highly-anticipated Big 12/SEC Challenge on Jan. 30. Kansas will find out its SEC opponent later when ESPN and the conferences announce the matchups.
Holding down tradition, the 31st Annual Late Night in the Phog is set for Friday, Oct. 9, in Allen Fieldhouse. After a pair of exhibition matchups against local programs Pittsburg State (Nov. 4) and Fort Hays State (Nov. 10), KU opens up the regular season playing host to Northern Colorado on Nov. 13.
In the fifth year of the Champions Classic, the Jayhawks will face its second-straight Final Four participant from the year before. KU and Michigan State square off on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at the United Center in Chicago. In their last meeting, the Jayhawks defeated the Spartans for the Orlando Classic title a year ago.
Following the Champions Classic, KU will head to Maui, Hawaii, for bracket play in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, Nov. 23-25, at the Lahaina Center. Included in the eight-team field is 2015 NCAA Sweet 16 team UCLA along with Indiana and St. John’s, which also participated in last March’s NCAA tourney. KU legend Danny Manning will be in his second season as Wake Forest’s head coach and could face his alma mater in Maui. Other teams in the Maui field include host Chaminade, UNLV and Vanderbilt, who reached the 2015 NIT quarterfinals.
Last time in Maui, Kansas finished runner-up to Duke in the 2011 Maui Invitational and the Jayhawks would later advance to the 2012 Final Four in New Orleans. Last season, KU won the Orlando Classic at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in its preseason tournament.
Kansas returns to the friendly confines of Allen Fieldhouse to host Loyola (Maryland) on Tuesday, Dec. 1. Four days later, KU welcomes five-time defending Ivy League champion Harvard to Lawrence. KU will then face Holy Cross on Wednesday, Dec. 9, also in Allen Fieldhouse.
On Saturday, Dec. 12, Kansas will make its annual trip to Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, where the Jayhawks will host Oregon State in the Kansas City Shootout. KU will then host 2015 NIT participant Montana on Saturday, Dec. 19, before playing a return home-and-home contest at San Diego State on Tuesday, Dec. 22. SDSU ended a Kansas 68-game home court win streak against non-conference foes with a 61-57 victory on Jan. 5, 2014. Kansas will return home to host 2015 NCAA Tournament participant UC Irvine on Tuesday, Dec. 29, prior to starting Big 12 play.
Inserted during the conference season, Kansas will be one of five Big 12 hosts for the third annual Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will combine to televise every game of the challenge that matches 10 Big 12 schools against 10 SEC teams. KU is 1-1 in the challenge after avenging a loss at Florida in 2013 with a thrilling comeback victory at home last December.
Kansas returns four starters and 12 letterwinners from last season’s 27-9 team that won KU’s 11th-straight, 15th Big 12 and NCAA-leading 58th overall conference regular-season title with a 13-5 league record. In 2014-15, the Jayhawks posted their 18th undefeated season inside historic Allen Fieldhouse by going 15-0 in the venue’s 60th year of existence. Additionally, KU led its conference in home attendance for the 29th-straight season, beginning in 1986-87, with an average of 16,383 last season.
Season ticket sales for KU’s 18 home games, the 17 in Allen Fieldhouse and the Dec. 12 game against Oregon State in Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, will go on sale May 11. 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 just $100.
Non-Conference Opponent Breakdown
NORTHERN COLORADO (Nov. 13 in Lawrence) – Northern Colorado finished .500 for the second-straight season by going 15-15 and placing fifth (10-8) in the Big Sky Conference in 2014-15. Entering his sixth season as the Bears’ head coach, B.J. Hill has led Northern Colorado to a 76-77 overall record, including a Big Sky Championship in 2010-11. Returning for the Bears is guard Cameron Michael, who was the team’s second-leading scorer at 12.9 points per game in 2014-15. Kansas won the only meeting between the two schools 85-62 on Dec. 22, 2005, in Lawrence.
MICHIGAN STATE (Nov. 17 in Chicago) – Coming off another Final Four run, legendary head coach Tom Izzo will take his team back to the Champions Classic to face Kansas. It will be the second time the teams have met in the event with the Spartans edging the Jayhawks 67-64 in Atlanta in 2012. The Spartans return guard Denzel Valentine, who finished second on the team in scoring (14.5), rebounds (6.3), and assists (4.3) this past season. In the rich history between the two programs, Michigan State holds a 6-5 all-time series advantage. KU won the last meeting, 61-56, in the championship game of the 2014 Orlando Classic Nov. 30 last season.
CHAMINADE (Nov. 23-25 in Maui) –  Entering his fourth season leading the Silverswords, head coach Eric Bovaird is 61-52 at Chaminade. The team returns its top-two scorers in Kuany Kuany and Kevin Hu, who averaged 15.3 and 14.1 ppg, respectively, in 2014-15. Kuany also pulled down a team-best 7.4 rebounds per game. The last time Kansas faced Chaminade was in the 2005 Maui Invitational. The Jayhawks won that game, 102-54.
INDIANA (Nov. 23-25 in Maui) – After exiting the NCAA tournament in the second round, Indiana will return its top-eight players in terms of minutes played. Highlighting this group is senior guard Yogi Ferrell, who averaged 16.3 points and 4.9 assists per game in 2014-15. Coach Tom Crean is entering his eighth season at Indiana with a 121-111 record at the program. Indiana leads the all-time series with Kansas, 7-6, though KU won the last matchup, 91-83, on Dec. 16, 1995, in Kansas City.
ST. JOHN’S (Nov. 23-25 in Maui) – New coach Chris Mullin will lead a St. John’s squad that loses three of its four top scorers from a 21-12 season that ended in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Rysheed Jordan, who was second on the team with 14.1 points per game in 2014-15, will look to be St. John’s go-to scorer. KU won the last meeting with St. John’s, 82-74, on Nov. 10, 2000, in New York and leads the series, 8-5.
UCLA (Nov. 23-25 in Maui) – UCLA will try to rebuild after losing two of its top-three scorers from last season that included a Sweet 16 appearance and a 22-14 record. Third-year coach Steve Alford will turn to his son Bryce Alford, who was second on the team with 15.4 points per game, to lead the offense. UCLA leads the all-time series against KU, 10-7, though Kansas won the last meeting in the 2011 Maui Invitational semifinals, 72-56.
UNLV (Nov. 23-25 in Maui) – Fourth-year head coach Dave Rice loses his top two scorers from the 2014-15 team that went 18-15. The Runnin’ Rebels return no players that averaged over 10 points a game, but will include transfer Ike Nwamu, who averaged 15.1 points per game for Mercer in 2014-15. Kansas has swept the all-time series with UNLV, 5-0, and would be playing UNLV for the second year in a row after beating Runnin’ Rebels, 76-51, last season in Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 4, 2015.
VANDERBILT (Nov. 23-25 in Maui) – With eight of the top-nine players returning from a team that made it to the NIT Quarterfinals, coach Kevin Stallings, a former KU assistant coach, can count on improving upon the 21-14 record the incredibly young Commodores earned. Standout rising center Damien Jones led Vandy in scoring (14.4 ppg) and rebounding (6.5 rpg) in 2014-15. KU and Vanderbilt have split the all-time series, 2-2, with the last match a KU win, 89-82, on Dec. 29, 1997, in the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu.
WAKE FOREST (Nov. 23-25 in Maui) – Coached by KU legend Danny Manning, the Demon Deacons return their top-five scorers from a 13-19 season in 2014-15, Manning’s first in Winston-Salem. Key to the team’s success will be rising forward Devin Thomas, who averaged 12.0 points and 8.8 rebounds per game in 2014-15. This matchup could be Manning’s first against his alma mater as a coach and Wake Forest’s sixth all-time against KU. The series is led 3-2 by KU, with the last game an 87-78 Jayhawk win in the Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 28, 2013.
LOYOLA [MD.] (Dec. 1 in Lawrence) – Loyola went 11-19 in 2014-15, including a 7-11 mark in the Patriot League. The Greyhounds are coached by G.G. Smith who has two seasons under his belt at Loyola. Forward Cam Gregory (6.8 ppg, team-best 7.0 rpg) and guard Andre Walker (10.2 ppg, team-best 52 steals) were each named to the Patriot League All-Rookie Team in 2014-15. During Kansas’ 2008 NCAA National Championship season, the Jayhawks defeated the Greyhounds, 90-60, on Jan. 8, 2008, in Allen Fieldhouse in the lone series matchup between the two schools.
HARVARD (Dec. 1 in Lawrence) – Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker has made the Crimson an Ivy League power in the form of four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances, five-consecutive Ivy League championships and six-straight 20-win seasons. Last year, Harvard posted a 22-8 record and defeated Yale in a playoff game to advance to the NCAA tourney. Guard Siyani Chambers is Harvard’s leading returning in scoring at 9.9 points per game and assists at 4.3 per contest in 2014-15. Kansas and Harvard will be meeting for the first time in men’s basketball.
HOLY CROSS (Dec. 5 in Lawrence) – Holy Cross is coming off a 14-16 season, which included an 8-10 record in the Patriot League. Bill Carmody was named Holy Cross head coach on March 19, 2015, after serving four seasons at Northwestern where he guided the Wildcats to four-consecutive winning seasons, including 20-win campaigns in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Forward Malachi Alexander led Holy Cross in rebounding last season at 5.0 rpg as he averaged 8.4 points per game. Kansas leads the series with Holy Cross, 2-1, with the last meeting a KU 81-57 victory on Nov. 19, 2002, in Allen Fieldhouse.
OREGON STATE (Dec. 12 in Kansas City) – Losing its top-five scorers from the previous season, OSU posted a 17-14 record under first-year head coach Wayne Tinkle in 2014-15. Oregon State returns all five starters and is led by guard Gary Payton II, the 2015 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and all-conference first-team honoree, who averaged 13.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.1 steals last season as a junior. Oregon State makes a return trip to Sprint Center for the Kansas City Shootout in Kansas City, Missouri. Trailing at halftime, the Jayhawks defeated the Beavers, 84-78, in the only other series meeting on Nov. 30, 2012, also in the Kansas City Shootout.
MONTANA (Dec. 19 in Lawrence) – The Grizzlies, regular-season co-champions of the Big Sky Conference in 2015, are coming off a 20-13 season where they lost in the first round of the NIT to Texas A&M. Head coach Travis Decure will enter his second season at his alma mater with his 20 victories last year being the second-most for a first year head coach at Montana. Forward Martin Breunig, the 2015 Big Sky Newcomer of the Year, led Montana in rebounding at 7.3 boards per game and averaged 16.7 points which was second on the team. Kansas won the only meeting with Montana back in 1962, 68-56 on Dec. 1, 1962, in Allen Fieldhouse.
SAN DIEGO STATE (Dec. 22 in San Diego) – San Diego State has grooved its way into the national spotlight under legendary head coach Steve Fisher. The Aztecs have won 20-plus games in each of the last 10 seasons under Fisher, including two 30-win campaigns. Last year they were 27-9 and won the Mountain West regular-season title with a 14-4 record. Senior forward Winston Shepard is returning for his senior season with the Aztecs. A Mountain West All-Conference honoree, Shepard led SDSU in scoring (11.1 ppg) and rebounding (5.3 rpg) last season. SDSU returns three of its top five scorers from 2014-15. San Diego State leads the three-game series with Kansas, 2-1, including the last meeting, 61-57, on Jan. 5, 2014, in Allen Fieldhouse.
UC IRVINE (Dec. 29 in Lawrence) – UC Irvine is coming off a 21-13 season where the Anteaters advanced to their first NCAA Tournament by winning the Big West Conference Tournament title. UCI lost to Louisville in the NCAA Tournament, 57-55, second round. UC Irvine head coach Russell Turner got great news when 7-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye announced he was returning for his junior season in 2015-16. Ndiaye averaged 10.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and shot 63.4 percent last season. Turner, the 2014 Big West Coach of the Year, has guided the Anteaters to 65 wins over the last three seasons. KU and UCI will be meeting for the first time in men’s basketball.
BIG 12/SEC CHALLENGE (Jan. 30 in Lawrence) – Kansas is 1-1 in the Big 12/SEC Challenge, falling at then-No. 19 Florida, 67-61, on Dec. 10, 2013, in Gainesville, and coming from 15 points down to defeat the then-No. 24 Gators, 71-65, on Dec. 5, 2014, in Allen Fieldhouse.
2015-16 Men’s Basketball Non-Conference Schedule
Date (day) – Opponent – Location
Oct. 9 (Friday) – Late Night in the Phog – Lawrence, Kan.
Nov. 4 (Wednesday) – Pittsburg State (exhibition) – Lawrence, Kan.
Nov. 10 (Tuesday) – Emporia State (exhibition) – Lawrence, Kan.
Nov. 13 (Friday) – Northern Colorado (Maui Invitational) – Lawrence, Kan.
Nov. 17 (Tuesday) – vs. Michigan State (Champions Classic) – Chicago, Ill.
Nov. 23 (Monday) – vs. TBD (Maui Jim Maui Invitational) – Lahaina, Hawaii
Nov. 24 (Tuesday) – vs. TBD (Maui Jim Maui Invitational) – Lahaina, Hawaii
Nov. 25 (Wednesday) – vs. TBD (Maui Jim Maui Invitational) – Lahaina, Hawaii
Dec. 1 (Tuesday) – Loyola (Md.) – Lawrence, Kan.
Dec. 5 (Saturday) – Harvard – Lawrence, Kan.
Dec. 9 (Wednesday) – Holy Cross – Lawrence, Kan.
Dec. 12 (Saturday) – Oregon State (Kansas City Shootout, Sprint Center) – Kansas City, Mo.
Dec. 19 (Saturday) – Montana – Lawrence, Kan.
Dec. 22 (Tuesday) – at San Diego State – San Diego, Calif.
Dec. 29 (Tuesday) – UC Irvine – Lawrence, Kan.
Jan. 30 (Saturday) – Big 12/SEC Challenge – Lawrence, Kan. The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.