Kansas' Bill Self coaches from the bench during their NCAA college basketball game against Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, Tuesday, Feb, 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Stephen Spillman)
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Known for its consistently strong schedules, Kansas men's basketball will face traditional powers Kentucky, Florida, Georgetown, Utah, Temple and UNLV with the potential to meet up with the likes of Michigan State, Tennessee, Marquette, Georgia Tech and Rhode Island, making the 2014-15 non-conference schedule another difficult slate for the Jayhawks.
There is no doubt Kansas' 2013-14 men's basketball schedule was the toughest in the nation and KU's 2014-15 non-conference schedule potentially includes six opponents who advanced to the 2014 postseason (four NCAA and two NIT). Add in the Big 12's round-robin format and KU could play as many as 16 games versus 2014 NCAA Tournament teams and four against 2014 NIT squads.
"Obviously, next year's non-conference will be very challenging," head coach Bill Self said. "We always play a good schedule, but this past year was rated by many to be about as tough of a non-conference schedule that a team has played in years. Certainly, next year's schedule will be one of the better non-conference schedules that anyone in America plays, as well. When you think about two teams that were in the Final Four last year with Kentucky and Florida, then you throw in the Orlando Classic, which is loaded, including Michigan State, then on the road at Georgetown and Temple along with other tough non-conference contests like Utah and UNLV, all of those will certainly prepare our guys to make another strong push at a conference championship."
Along with the non-conference schedule unveiling, Kansas also announced the beloved tradition that kicks it all off. Late Night in the Phog will be held on Oct. 10.
The 2014-15 non-conference slate, paired with its home-and-home meetings against league foes, will help keep Kansas' strength of schedule among the nation's best. In KU head coach Bill Self's 11 seasons in Lawrence, the Jayhawks' strength of schedule has ranked 10th or higher six times, including four of the last five years dating back to 2009-10.
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 each of the last five seasons, including No. 1 in 2010 and 2011. The Jayhawks ended 2013-14 at No. 4 in the final RPI.
Kansas will play 2014 NCAA runner-up Kentucky Nov. 18 in Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis in the fourth Champions Classic. KU and UK last met in the Champions Classic in 2011 in Madison Square Garden in what was an early preview to the 2012 NCAA Championship game at the Final Four in New Orleans. This historic contest pits the two winningest teams in college basketball history with Kentucky at 2,140 wins and Kansas at 2,126 victories.
Kansas will open the regular season playing host to UC Santa Barbara on Nov. 14 as historic Allen Fieldhouse enters its 60th season. The Gauchos feature the 2013-14 NCAA rebound leader in senior Alan Williams who averaged 11.5 boards per game as a junior.
Kansas will make its first appearance in the Orlando Classic in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 27-30. The brackets have yet to be set, but the eight confirmed teams participating in the event include: Kansas, Michigan State, Tennessee, Marquette, Georgia Tech, Rhodes Island, Santa Clara and Rider. Kansas will host Rider on Nov. 24 in an early Orlando Classic matchup.
Non-Conference Opponent Breakdown
--UC Santa Barbara (Nov. 14 in Lawrence) improved 10 wins from the 2012-13 season by going 21-9 and finishing second in the Big West with a 12-4 league record in 2013-14. In 16 seasons as head coach at UCSB, Bob Williams has guided the Gauchos to 20-plus victories 11 times. Senior forward Alan Williams lead the NCAA with an 11.5 rpg in 2013-14. Kansas won the only meeting with UCSB, 72-52, in the opening round of the Wolf Pack Holiday Classic, Dec. 20, in Reno, Nevada, in Bill Self's first season at Kansas.
--Kentucky (Nov. 18 in Indianapolis at the Champions Classic) finished runner-up to Connecticut in the 2014 NCAA title game in Dallas, posting a 29-11 overall record. The Wildcats tied Georgia for second in the Southeastern Conference with a 12-6 record and finished runner-up in the SEC Tournament to Florida, KU's Dec. 5 foe in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. After a Kansas three-game win streak versus Kentucky, the Wildcats have won the last two meetings, both during the 2011-12 season: 75-65 in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden and 67-59 in the NCAA Championship game at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
--Rider (Nov. 24 in Lawrence, Orlando Classic) went 14-17 in 2013-14 and tied for sixth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with a 9-11 record. The Broncs are coached by Kevin Baggett, who led Rider to a 19-15 record in 2012-13, his first season at Rider. Kansas is 2-0 versus Rider with both games in Allen Fieldhouse: 110-72 on Dec. 12, 1987, and 103-51 on Dec. 15, 1990.
--Pairings for the Orlando Classic (Nov. 27, 28 and 30) have not been announced. Joining Kansas in the eight-team field is Michigan State (MSU leads the series 6-4 and has won the last three meetings with the previous 67-64 in Atlanta in the 2012 Champions Classic); Tennessee (series is tied at 1-1 with UT winning the last meeting 76-68 on Jan. 10, 2010, in Knoxville); Marquette (KU leads 6-1 and has won the last three meetings. The previous matchup was in the 2003 Final Four, a KU 94-61 victory in New Orleans); Georgia Tech (KU leads 5-1 with the last meeting a 71-66 Jayhawk win in Atlanta on Dec. 18, 2007, during KU's 2008 NCAA National Championship season); Rhode Island (KU leads 2-1, including an 80-69 win on Dec. 30, 2006, in Allen Fieldhouse in the last matchup); Santa Clara (KU leads 5-0 with the last meeting a 99-73 KU victory on Nov. 14, 1997, in Allen Fieldhouse) and Rider, who Kansas will play Nov. 24 in Lawrence.
--Florida (Dec. 5 in Lawrence) will face Kansas in the second SEC/Big 12 Challenge with this year's meeting in Allen Fieldhouse. The Gators went 36-3 in 2013-14, posted a perfect 18-0 in winning the SEC regular-season title, won the SEC Tournament and entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed. Kansas leads the overall series with Florida 3-2 with three of the five meetings being top-10 nationally-ranked contests. Last year Florida defeated Kansas, 67-61, in Gainesville.
--Georgetown (Dec. 10 in Washington, D.C.) finished the 2013-14 season with an 18-15 record advancing to the second round of the NIT. The Hoyas were 8-10 in the BIG EAST, placing seventh. Kansas has a 2-1 series edge against Georgetown after last year's 86-64 win on Dec. 21 in Allen Fieldhouse. A traditional power, Georgetown won the first meeting, 70-57, in the 1987 NCAA Tournament Elite Eight in Louisville, Ky., and Kansas edged GU, 67-63, in the opening round of the 2011 Maui Invitational.
--Utah (Dec. 13 at Sprint Center in Kansas City) went 21-12 and finished tied for eighth in the Pac-12. The Utes fell to St. Mary's in the first round of the 2014 NIT. It was Utah's first postseason appearance under third-year head coach Larry Krystkowiak. Kansas won the only meeting with Utah, 79-68, on Nov. 25, 1995, at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri, in The Classic.
--Lafayette (Dec. 20 in Lawrence) is located in Easton, Pennsylvania, and the Leopards went 11-20 overall and tied for seventh in the Patriot League with a 6-12 record. Lafayette head coach Fran O'Hanlon will be entering his 20th season on the Leopards' sidelines. O'Hanlon has guided Lafayette to three conference titles and two NCAA Tournament appearances. The Jayhawks and the Leopards have yet to face each other in men's basketball.
--Temple (Dec. 22 in Philadelphia) is looking to rebound from a 9-22 season in 2013-14 where the Owls tied for eighth in the American Athletic Conference with a 4-14 league record. In his eight seasons at Temple, head coach Fran Dunphy has guided the Owls to three Atlantic 10 titles and six NCAA Tournament appearances. Kansas has won the last three meetings with Temple and leads the overall series 8-3. The Jayhawks defeated the Owls, 69-62, on Jan. 6, 2013, in Allen Fieldhouse in their last meeting.
--Kent State (Dec. 30 in Lawrence) went 16-16 last season, including a 7-11 record which ended the Golden Flashes fifth in the Mid-American Conference East standings. Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff has guided the Golden Flashes to two 20-win seasons and postseason appearances in his three years at Kent State.
--UNLV (Jan. 4 in Lawrence) went 20-13 in 2013-14 and finished tied for third in the Mountain West Conference with a 10-8 record. In head coach David Rice's first two seasons at UNLV, the Running Rebels advanced to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances going 26-9 in 2011-12 and 25-10 in 2012-13. Kansas has won all four meetings with UNLV with the last being in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, a KU 75-56 win in Omaha on March 22, 2008, en route to its NCAA National Championship.
Kansas will open the 2014-15 season with home exhibition games against Washburn (Nov. 4) and Emporia State (Nov. 11).
For the third-straight year, KU will have home-and-home meetings against all nine Big 12 Conference foes. Besides Kansas, other conference teams that participated in the 2014 NCAA Tournament included Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas. West Virginia played in the 2014 NIT. The Big 12 traditionally releases that schedule in July.
Season ticket sales for KU's 18 home games, the 17 in Allen Fieldhouse and the Dec. 13 game against Utah in the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., are on sale now. To order tickets fans must be active members of the Williams Education Fund, which can be done by making a minimum gift pledge of just $100.
KU has led its conference in home attendance each of the last 28 seasons, dating back to the 1986-87 season. The Jayhawks will look to capture a 11th consecutive Big 12 regular-season championship in 2014-15.
2014-15 Men's Basketball Non-Conference Schedule
Date Day Opponent Location
Nov. 4 Tuesday Washburn (Exh.) Lawrence, Kan.
Nov. 11 Tuesday Emporia State (Exh.) Lawrence, Kan.
Nov. 14 Friday UC Santa Barbara Lawrence, Kan.
Nov. 18 Tuesday Kentucky (Champions Classic) Indianapolis, Ind.
Nov. 24 Monday Rider (Orlando Classic) Lawrence, Kan.
Nov. 27 Thursday TBA (Orlando Classic) Orlando, Fla.
Nov. 28 Friday Semifinals (Orlando Classic) Orlando, Fla.
Nov. 30 Sunday Championship (Orlando Classic) Orlando, Fla.
Dec. 5 Friday Florida (SEC/Big 12 Challenge) Lawrence, Kan.
Dec. 10 Wednesday at Georgetown Washington, D.C.
Dec. 13 Saturday Utah (Sprint Center) Kansas City, Mo.
Dec. 20 Saturday Lafayette Lawrence, Kan.
Dec. 22 Monday at Temple Philadelphia, Pa.
Dec. 30 Tuesday Kent State Lawrence, Kan.
Jan. 4 Sunday UNLV Lawrence, Kan.