2005-06 Preview: The Schedule

The Wildcats once again have a difficult schedule. The program again ducks no one. The season starts with the brutal Maui Classic and concludes with a home game against talented Washington.

The Cats schedule is toughest at the beginning. They head to the loaded Maui Classic and an opening game against Kansas. The Jayhawks lost a lot of senior talent in the form of Wayne Simeon, Keith Langford, Aaron Miles and Michael Lee. They also saw J.R. Giddens and Alex Galindo leave for other programs. All told six of their top seven scorers from last season are gone.

That is not to say the Jayhawks have no talent in place, in fact they are loaded with young talent. They return Christian Moody, Russell Robinson and C.J. Giles, but what has Kansas fans salivating is the amazing freshman class that the Jayhawks are bringing in. It will be a chance for the Wildcats to butt heads with former recruits Mario Chalmers and Julian Wright, plus talented newcomers Micah Downs and Brandon Rush.

Win or lose the Cats will face a quality second round opponent. They'll either get a young Arkansas team or a loaded UConn team that is seen as a national title contender if they can survive off-season difficulties.

Michigan State, Maryland and Gonzaga highlight the other half of the bracket and the Spartans and the Bulldogs seem to be the most likely teams to play in the championship. Both are top-15 teams and many project the Spartans to return to the Final Four for the second straight season.

The Cats return from Hawaii with a rematch against Virginia. The Cavaliers handed the Cats one of their worst losses in the Olson era last season but will get the Cats at McKale.

The Cats play a rare December road game when they head to Houston and a match-up against the Cougars. The game is not only a homecoming for Jawann McClellan and Fendi Onobun, but a chance to further bolster the Wildcat name in front of Houston recruits.

The next two games at home are against NAU and St. Mary's, two teams the Cats should beat, although St. Mary's has some good players coming back. They then go back on the road for a game against Utah in Salt Lake City. The Utes no longer have Andrew Bogut, but still have plenty of talent from last year's tournament team.

The Fiesta Bowl Classic is not exactly loaded with big name teams. The Cats open with Sam Houston State and then get the winner of Central Florida and Western Kentucky.

Arizona hits the road to start the Pac-10 season. They get pesky Washington State in Spokane and then a marquee match-up with Washington on New Years Eve.

The L.A. schools come to Tucson where they both gave Arizona some trouble and then it is back on the road to visit the Oregon trail. The first half of the Pac-10 season concludes with a homestand against the Bay Area schools and a trip to Tempe.

The final non-conference game is a much anticipated meeting with North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The game has lost some of its luster with the defection of four key underclassmen to the pros, but Roy Williams has a lot of young talent and is good enough to keep the Tar Heels competitive at the very least.

February begins with a trek to Los Angeles, then the home games against Oregon and Oregon State. The Bay Area teams are the final road games of the year as the Cats finish with three at home. ASU comes to town first and then the Washington schools hit McKale. WSU beat the Cats at home last year and UW has taken four of the last five against the Wildcats.

The season will finish in L.A. with what promises to be a wild Pac-10 Tournament and then the unpredictable NCAA's.


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