Kansas basketball: Breaking down KU’s nonconference schedule

Kansas sophomore forward KJ Adams Jr. (24) reacts after a dunk over Texas in the first half of Monday's game inside Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas sophomore forward KJ Adams Jr. (24) reacts after a dunk over Texas in the first half of Monday's game inside Allen Fieldhouse. /

Kansas basketball just revealed its nonconference schedule to the public. We break down the Jayhawks’ opponents early in the season.

The Kansas Jayhawks have released their nonconference schedule for the 2023-24 season, and it will once again be one of the toughest in the country. Kansas has long been known for its grueling nonconference schedules under Coach Self.

In the past ten seasons, here is where the Jayhawks have finished in terms of strength of schedule: first, first, second, third, first, first, first, 23rd, second, first. Even the season they were 23rd, they faced four preseason top 25 teams. Granted, a good part of those rankings are affected by how good the Big 12 has been. It’s still a crazy stat, regardless.

This year, there is a very real chance that they earn their seventh top strength of schedule season in 11 years, or at least their 10th top-three ranking in the same time frame.

The schedule features at least three preseason top-25 teams, and not included in those three is whoever they may come across in the Maui Invitational, which is probably the most loaded field that tournament has ever seen. The eight-team field includes five teams that are in the top 10 of Jeff Borzello’s Way-Too-Early Top 25 (Gonzaga, Tennessee, Marquette, Purdue, and Kansas). KU is almost guaranteed to play at least one of those other four teams, with a high likelihood of playing two or even three of them.

Outside of Maui, they also have games versus Kentucky, UConn, and Indiana. Kentucky and UConn are both in Borzello’s top 25 (with UConn in the top 10), while Indiana has a top-12 recruiting class coming to Bloomington.

Also included on the schedule is the third installment of the Border War since Missouri defected to the SEC. The past two games have been won by Kansas by a combined 65 points, and while the Tigers aren’t a powerhouse in the college basketball world, they were much improved last season and could be yet another notch in the Jayhawks’ belt come Selection Sunday.

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That is a daunting list of opponents for Kansas early in the season, but there is a caveat that favors them. Of the 5+ high-profile games they will play in the non-conference, only one is a true road game — and it’s not until December 16th at Indiana.

Now, I haven’t been a college student for about four years now, but I believe that would be during the time students are off for winter break. Not that Indiana fans won’t easily fill Assembly Hall, but it may not be quite the raucous crowd that normally fills the arena.

The rest of the big games are either at home or at a neutral site (Champions Classic in Chicago for Kentucky and Maui for the Maui Invitational) In fact, the Indiana game is the only true road game that the Jayhawks have before conference play starts.

Other opponents on the schedule should offer little resistance. The remaining six nonconference games are against Fort Hays State, NC Central, Manhattan, Eastern Illinois, UMKC, and Yale. Assuming all goes well in those games, KU should be set up quite nicely for a resume-building start to the season.

They also picked a good year to have a team full of veterans, as the games against Kentucky, UConn, and the Maui Invitational are all within the regular season’s first month. As per usual, the nonconference will be a good test for the Jayhawks, but it should help them come conference time and into the postseason.

Next. Strengths and weaknesses of the rebuilt Jayhawks roster. dark

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