Breaking down KU basketball's non-conference schedule
At the end of nearly every season, the Kansas men’s basketball team ranks among the nation’s leaders in strength of schedule because of a strong slate of non-conference games.
Once the Jayhawks kick off their 2017-18 season against Tennessee State in eight days, they should have a few opportunities to face NCAA Tournament teams ahead of Big 12 play.
KU will face four schools predicted to win their respective conferences, plus six other Power Five programs.
Of course, it doesn’t always turn out the way it looks at the beginning of the season. The only teams that made the NCAA Tournament from last year’s non-conference schedule were Duke and Kentucky. Those games were set up by the Champions Classic and Big 12/SEC Challenge.
Here is a look at the Jayhawks’ upcoming non-conference schedule:
Nov. 10 — Tennessee State
The Tigers were picked seventh in the Ohio Valley Conference preseason coaches poll, fourth in the media poll. Tennessee State will have to replace three starters.
Nov. 14 — Kentucky at United Center in Chicago
As expected, the Wildcats have reloaded with one of the top recruiting classes in the nation. Ranked No. 5 in the preseason AP poll, freshman Hamidou Diallo, who joined the team in the middle of last season, was a preseason first-team all-SEC selection. Freshman Kevin Knox was listed on the second team.
Nov. 17 — South Dakota State
The Jackrabbits have made the NCAA Tournament in two straight seasons and were picked to win the Summit League in the league’s preseason poll. Junior Mike Daum, a 6-foot-9 forward who was named the league’s player of the year last season, returns after averaging 25.1 points per game. Reed Tellinghuisen was a preseason second-team all-Summit League choice.
Nov. 21 — Texas Southern
Texas Southern was picked to win the Southwestern Athletic Conference by the league’s coaches. Texas Southern’s Demontrae Jefferson (guard) and Kevin Scott (forward) were first-team all-league preseason selections. Forward Lamont Walker was a second-team pick.
Nov. 24 — Oakland
The Grizzlies were tabbed to win the Horizon League. Jalen Hayes and Martez Walker were preseason first-team all-league picks while Kendrick Nunn, a transfer from Illinois, was chosen for the second team.
Nov. 28 — Toledo
In the preseason poll, Toledo was picked third in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference. Among all teams in the MAC, the Rockets ranked fifth. In the West Division, Jaelan Sanford was an all-MAC preseason choice. Justin Roberts, son of KU assistant coach Norm Roberts, is a sophomore point guard.
Dec. 2 — Syracuse at American Airlines Arena in Miami
Not quite as powerful as the usual Syracuse squads, the Orange were picked 10th in the preseason ACC media poll. Sophomore Tyus Battle is the team’s only returner among last year’s top seven scorers, averaging 11.3 points.
Dec. 6 — Washington at Sprint Center in Kansas City
It’s a new era of Washington basketball under first-year coach Mike Hopkins. The Huskies were 10th in the preseason Pac-12 media poll, but they return four of their top five scorers — losing No. 1 draft pick Markelle Fultz.
Dec. 10 — Arizona State
The Sun Devils were picked sixth in the preseason Pac-12 media poll, its highest preseason ranking since the 2010-11 season. Tra Holder is the program’s top returning scorer after averaging 16.2 points per game last year.
Dec. 16 — at Nebraska
The Big 10 doesn’t conduct a preseason poll, but the Huskers will try to improve on last season’s 12-19 record while replacing three of its top five scorers. Glynn Watson Jr. is the top returning scorer, though he was held to five points inside of Allen Fieldhouse last year.
Dec. 18 — Omaha
The Mavericks were picked sixth in the preseason Summit League poll, well behind South Dakota State who will play Kansas on Nov. 17. Omaha lost its top two scorers from last season.
Dec. 21 — Stanford at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento
With four returning starters, including Pac 12’s top returning scorer in forward Reid Travis, Stanford was fifth in the preseason Pac-12 media poll. Travis was near unstoppable against KU last season, registering 29 points and nine rebounds in a loss inside of Allen Fieldhouse.
Jan. 27 — Texas A&M
Playing as a part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge, the Aggies were pegged third in the preseason SEC media poll. Sophomore Robert Williams, who averaged 11.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.48 blocks, split preseason SEC player of the year honors with Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. and Georgia’s Yante Maten. Tyler Davis was a second-team all-SEC preseason selection.