The Kansas men’s basketball program will play a full 27 games this season after all, and its final opponent will be familiar foe Washburn, KU announced Monday.
Former KU walk-on Brett Ballard will bring his Ichabods to Allen Fieldhouse for a game with the Jayhawks on Dec. 3.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic altered sports schedules nationwide, KU was originally expected to play Washburn in an exhibition game, but the game was called off when the NCAA ruled that no exhibition games could be played before the start of the season on Nov. 25.
Here's a look at the complete Kansas men's basketball schedule for the 2020-21 season. Most tip times and television details have not yet been announced.
The NCAA also designated 27 games as the maximum number of regular-season games allowed for Division I teams this season.
After some scrambling to build a schedule with 26 games, KU coach Bill Self said recently that he was unsure whether Kansas would even add a 27th. But the opportunity to play Washburn — in a game that counts — recently presented itself, and KU chose to fill out its schedule with a game against the in-state program from Topeka.
"I don't recognize any of the teams KU plays before us, so I think it's pretty obvious this was done to strengthen the schedule," Ballard joked when reached by the Journal-World on Monday evening.
Ballard said KU coach Bill Self reached out to him a few weeks ago about the potential to schedule the game at the last minute and Ballard and WU did all they could to accommodate the unusual timing.
"Fortunately we were able to work this out," Ballard said. "It's a great opportunity for everyone involved in our program to play in the best venue in all of sports against one of the best teams in the country. It will be a regular season game for KU and an exhibition game for us, which means I don't have to put this on my official coaching record. Our players are excited and we look forward to competing against an elite team."
Ballard is set to begin his fourth season in charge of the Ichabods program, which he has led to a 62-31 record during the past three seasons. Last season, Washburn went 16-13 and finished tied for fifth with Northeastern State in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association with an 11-8 league record.
Ballard played at KU from 2000 to 2002, and he was a part of the 2001-2002 squad that was the only team in Big 12 history to go undefeated in conference play.
After his playing days, Ballard was on Self’s staff at KU for seven years (2003-2010), serving as the program’s director of basketball operations for the final two seasons of that time.
Kansas leads the overall series with Washburn, 38-3, which includes an 8-0 record in exhibition play dating back to 2004. The last time the two teams met in a nonexhibition contest was Nov. 15, 2007, when KU won 92-60 in Allen Fieldhouse.
The series dates back to 1906, and Kansas won the first six meetings. Washburn’s three wins came in 1913, 1928 and 1944, with all three victories coming in Topeka. Since 1944, Kansas has won 13 consecutive games against Washburn, including the eight exhibition contests.