Non-con schedule loaded for 2011-2012

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Many times in the Bill Self era, Kansas men's basketball has ranked among the national leaders in strength of schedule and even with the Big 12 stiffening its schedule, KU did not let up with its 2011-12 non-conference slate.

Ten of Kansas' 13 non-conference opponents advanced to the 2011 postseason. The Jayhawks could face as many as three defending league regular-season champions and three teams that won their conference tourney titles in 2011. KU will have home-and-home meetings against all nine Big 12 foes in the league's first-complete round-robin 18-game format since the inception of the conference in 1996-97.

"This is potentially the biggest name schedule we've played since we've been here with the guarantee of playing Kentucky, Ohio State and USC," Self said. "Add to that the opportunity to play three of the biggest names in college basketball at the Maui Invitational. This will probably be as tough a non-conference schedule as we have played in a long time."

The Jayhawks lead the nation in wins over the last two seasons (68), and could play the second, third and fourth winningest teams (Duke, Kentucky and Ohio State) this season.

Kansas will play Kentucky Nov. 15 in historic Madison Square Garden in the inaugural Champions Classic doubleheader. The Champions Classic is a three-year series involving four national powers. This year, Kansas plays Kentucky and Duke faces Michigan State. In 2012, Kansas will play Michigan State, while UK plays Duke, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta; in 2013, KU will face Duke and MSU will play UK at the United Center in Chicago.

The Jayhawks have won the last three meetings with Kentucky – the last in Chicago in the second round of the 2007 NCAA Championship, an 88-76 KU victory.

Following the Champions Classic, Kansas will participate in the EA Sports Maui Invitational in Hawaii in a who's who of national powers. KU finished the 2010-11 season as the No. 1 team in the NCAA's final RPI. Six of the seven other Maui competitors, excluding host Chaminade, were also ranked in the top 51 in last season's final RPI: Duke (4), Georgetown (15), Memphis (32), UCLA (38), Tennessee (41) and Michigan (51).

The Jayhawks open their regular-season Nov. 11 hosting Towson in Allen Fieldhouse in the first-round game of the Maui Invitational. KU won its only meeting with Towson, 87-61, in 2006 in Lawrence.

Ohio State visits Allen Fieldhouse Dec. 10. The Buckeyes went 34-3 in 2010-11, won the Big Ten regular-season (16-2) and conference tournament titles, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 as a No. 1 seed. Kansas holds a 5-3 all-time series record against Ohio State; the schools last met Dec. 23, 2000, a 69-68 KU win in Columbus, Ohio.

KU will travel to Los Angeles, Calif., to play USC in the Galen Center on Dec. 22. In 2010-11, USC went 19-14 and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. KU and USC have played three times since 2006, with the Jayhawks winning all three matchups. Last year KU defeated USC, 70-68, in Allen Fieldhouse on Dec. 18. Kansas leads the overall series, 9-5.

Florida Atlantic comes to Allen Fieldhouse Nov. 30. The Owls won the 2011 Sun Belt Conference regular-season title and lost to Miami in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament. KU won the only meeting with FAU, 87-49, on Nov. 28, 2007, in Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas will play Big East foe South Florida for the first time on Dec. 3 in the Fieldhouse, and will host defending Big West Conference regular-season champion Long Beach State on Dec. 6. Long Beach State went 22-12 last season, won its league with a 14-2 record and advanced to the 2011 NIT. Kansas holds a 2-1 series advantage over LBSU; the two teams have not met since the 1993 season.

In a rematch of a 2008 NCAA Tournament Elite Eight contest, Kansas will face Davidson on December 19 in the M&I Bank Kansas City Shootout at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. KU won the schools' only previous meeting, 59-57, en route to the 2008 NCAA National Championship. Last season, Davidson went 18-15 and advanced to the CBI Tournament quarterfinals.

Kansas will host Howard on Dec. 29 and North Dakota on Dec. 31. KU won its only other meeting with Howard, 100-67, in the first round of the 1992 NCAA Tournament. North Dakota went 19-14 last season and lost to Air Force in the first round of the CIT Tournament. Kansas has won both previous meetings with North Dakota – 92-61 in 2000 in Lawrence and 108-77 in 2001 in Grand Forks, N.D.

Kansas will open the season with exhibition games against Fort Hays State (Nov. 1) and Pittsburg State (Nov. 8).

"It's a tough schedule," Self said. "One that will give us a ton of exposure, and with the young team we will have playing for us next year, it will be a great challenge. We need to be preparing now for next year."

2011-12 Kansas Men's Basketball Non-Conference Schedule

Date (Day), Opponent, Site (notes)

Nov. 1 (Tuesday), Fort Hays State, Lawrence, Kan. (exhibition)

Nov. 8 (Tuesday), Pittsburg State, Lawrence, Kan. (exhibition)

Nov. 11 (Friday), Towson, Lawrence, Kan. (EA Sports Maui Invitational First Round)

Nov. 15 (Tuesday), Kentucky, New York, N.Y. (Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden)

Nov. 21-23 (Monday-Wednesday), EA Sports Maui Invitational, Maui, Hawaii (potential opponents – Arizona, Chaminade, Duke, Georgetown, Memphis, Michigan, Tennessee, UCLA)

Nov. 30 (Wednesday), Florida Atlantic, Lawrence, Kan.

Dec. 3 (Saturday), South Florida, Lawrence, Kan.

Dec. 6 (Tuesday), Long Beach State, Lawrence, Kan.

Dec. 10 (Saturday), Ohio State, Lawrence, Kan.

Dec. 19 (Monday), Davidson, Kansas City, Mo. (M&I Bank Kansas City Shootout at Sprint Center)

Dec. 22 (Thursday), at USC, Los Angeles, Calif.

Dec. 29 (Thursday), Howard, Lawrence, Kan.

Dec. 31 (Saturday), North Dakota, Lawrence, Kan. Top Stories