The Kansas University basketball team doesn’t play regular-season games against Colonial Athletic Association schools and other institutions from so-called “mid-major” leagues unless they take place in either Allen Fieldhouse or the Sprint Center.
Heavyweights tend to avoid scheduling home-and-home series with light heavyweights.
For the powerhouses, such games fall into the category of nothing-to-gain, everything-to-lose. Plus, the emotional edge falls with the underdog and that edge grows when the smaller school’s fan base gets more jacked than ever for a rare visit from a super power.
That’s all fine, but the thinking is too short-sighted, too defensive. It works against the big schools in March. Playing a road game against a team that doesn’t have a snazzy name splashed across the front of the jersey presents a challenge far more difficult than any computer rankings possibly could capture. It’s a different one than a tough conference opponent.
If such a matchup makes geographic sense, all the more exciting for the fan bases of both schools. Nothing wrong with adding an annual December rivalry game to the schedule.
Kansas, of course, has a competitive non-BCS school within the state that would circle the game on its schedule and would make for a tough opponent.
The time has come for KU to put Wichita State on its slate on a home-and-home basis with the games in Wichita played downtown in Intrust Bank Arena. Not likely to happen, but it’s an idea well worth considering.
Plenty of reasons not to do it, such as the Big 12 schedule expanding to 18 games, leaving just 13 nonconference contests. No deal-breaker. Just substitute one of the home-and-home, big-name series with Wichita State to prevent losing a home game every other year.
Here’s the only way I could see it happening: Shockers coach Gregg Marshall, who in 13 seasons as a Div. I coach (nine at Winthrop) has won nearly twice as many as he has lost, is considered a strong candidate at North Carolina State. Let’s say he leaves Wichita State for Raleigh or another school.
WSU would be wise to make a phone call to Kansas assistant coach Danny Manning to test his interest in running his own program. Someone as competitive as Manning just might look at the success of former KU players Mark Turgeon at Texas A&M and Tad Boyle at Colorado and be itching to head his own program.
“He would be a great head coach,” said KU junior Markieff Morris, answering before the question was finished.
Manning sees the floor as well as a coach as he did as a player. Players respect him, want to please him. He’s a great teacher of the game and he has a presence.
If all the dominoes tumbled and Manning ended up on Wichita State’s bench, no way Kansas could say no to a home-and-home with its most popular player.