Originally published July 24, 2008 at 6:05 p.m., updated July 24, 2008 at 9:12 p.m.
Home games against Tennessee and Temple, road trips to Arizona and Michigan State and games against Washington, either Florida or Syracuse, as well as Massachusetts in Kansas City's Sprint Center, highlight Kansas University's nonconference men's basketball schedule, which was released Thursday.
A home ESPN Big Monday clash against Texas A&M and three Big Monday battles on the road (Baylor, Missouri and Oklahoma) highlight the Jayhawks' Big 12 schedule, also revealed Thursday.
"This will be as difficult a schedule as we have played since we've been at KU," said sixth-year coach Bill Self, whose Jayhawks lose all five starters off last year's national title team.
"We've got a great home schedule with Tennessee (Jan. 3), Temple (Dec. 20), UMass (Dec. 13), Siena (Jan. 6), Kent State (Dec. 1), Coppin State (Nov. 28) and Jackson State (Dec. 6), all of whom will be picked at or near the top of their conferences. The Big 12 home schedule will be tough, with Texas A&M (Jan. 19), Oklahoma State (Feb. 7) and Texas (March 7) from the south, in addition to the north schools," Self added.
The regular season begins with the CBE Classic, which will include a pair of home games Nov. 16 and 18. It has been revealed KU will play UMKC in one of the games, Tourney officials will announce the slate in September. It has also been revealed KU will play Washington in the tourney semifinals Nov. 24 and either Florida or Syracuse the following night, both games in Sprint Center.
KU's game against Arizona on Dec. 23 is part of the Big 12/Pac 10 Hardwood series and is a rematch of KU's victory over the Wildcats last year in Lawrence. The game at Michigan State on Jan. 10 also completes a home-and-home series with the Spartans.
"Our road schedule, with Arizona and Michigan State and the CBE Classic, makes this about as high-profile a schedule as anyone plays," Self said. "It will be a great test for one of the youngest teams in the country. Certainly we're going to have to grow up fast."
All of KU's games will be on TV, including exhibitions against Emporia State and Washburn.
"Kansas has always received great television exposure, but certainly after winning the NCAA title last year, it gives us a chance for even more TV exposure," Self said of three games on CBS, three on ABC and 21 on ESPN's family of networks. Three games will air on the Big 12 network and six on the Jayhawk Television Network.
KU's three exhibition games in Canada (McGill University and Carleton University on Aug. 30 and Ottawa University on Aug. 31) will only be available on the Jayhawk radio network.
"Our goal in playing in Canada is practice," Self said. "NCAA rules allow us to practice from when school starts (Aug. 21) until we leave. I believe Canada is more important this year than it has been because our practice season does not start until October 17th, so you're looking at almost one less week of preseason practice time than we had last year. With all our new guys, I think the additional time in late August will be beneficial to our team."
KU schedule maker Larry Keating, who still needs to fill one home date (Dec. 3), likes the schedule.
"I think it's significant that several of the teams on our schedule are picked to be at the top of their leagues," Keating said. "Tennessee, Temple, UMass, Kent State, Siena, Coppin State, Jackson State are at or near the top."
Click here for a PDF format of the Kansas men's basketball 2008-2009 schedule.
Future tournaments: KU will play in the CBE Classic this year. Next season's tourney has yet to be selected. In 2010, KU will play in the Las Vegas Invitational. In 2011, KU will enter the Maui Invitational.
"We were originally going to Maui in '09," Keating said. "It got to the point we were playing a lot of the same teams in the field (every trip to Maui). I think four or five of the teams we played last time are going back. This way it won't be the same teams every year."