Kansas released their non-conference schedule for the 2017-18 season over the weekend, and frankly, it leaves something to be desired.
To be clear, this schedule is passable. The buy games on the Kansas schedule are against good mid-major programs — Tennessee State, South Dakota State, Texas South, Oakland — and they play seven games against high-major competition, but it doesn’t change the fact that there really is just a single must-see game that the Jayhawks will play outside of the Big 12.
That’s the Nov. 14th date with Kentucky in the Champions Classic, which is annually one of the best non-conference games in college basketball. But the problem with playing Kentucky in the Champions Classic is that it means that Kansas gets someone else in the SEC/Big 12 Invitational. This year, it’s former Big 12 foe Texas A&M, who might be good enough to sneak into the NCAA tournament this season.
That’s probably the second-best non-conference game that Kansas will play, unless you’re super-impressed with a Syracuse team that will be looking to replace Tyler Lydon, Andrew White and John Gillon. Washington lost Markelle Fultz from a team that won nine games. Arizona State and Stanford are both better than Washington and still unlikely to be in the tournament. A trip to Nebraska is always tough, but the Cornhuskers went 12-19 last year.
That’s the only road game Kansas will play outside of the Big 12.
We’ll see much worse non-conference schedules than this from power conference programs, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s disappointing that Kansas, a top five team heading into the preseason, will play just a single marquee non-conference game.
Here is the full schedule:
Oct. 31 – PITTSBURG STATE (exhibition)
Nov. 7 – FORT HAYS STATE (exhibition)
Nov. 10 – TENNESSEE STATE
Nov. 14 – vs. Kentucky (Champions Classic, Chicago)
Nov. 17 – SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
Nov. 21 – TEXAS SOUTHERN (Hoophall Miami Invitational)
Nov. 24 – OAKLAND (Hoophall Miami Invitational)
Nov. 28 – TOLEDO (Hoophall Miami Invitational)
Dec. 2 – vs. Syracuse (Hoophall Miami Invitational, Miami, Fla.)
Dec. 6 – WASHINGTON (Jayhawk Shootout, Kansas City, Mo.)
Dec. 10 – ARIZONA STATE
Dec. 16 – at Nebraska (Shelter Insurance Showcase, Lincoln, Neb.)
Dec. 18 – OMAHA
Dec. 21 – vs. Stanford (Sacramento, Calif.)
Jan. 27 – TEXAS A&M (Big 12/SEC Challenge)