LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas men’s basketball annually plays one of the toughest nonconference schedules in the nation, and the 2018-19 slate is no exception. All of the Jayhawks’ 2018-19 nonconference opponents advanced to postseason play last season; five of them won their conference regular-season championships.
For the last nine seasons Kansas has ranked no lower than fifth nationally in the final Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), which is one of the tools the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee uses in selecting the NCAA Championship field. Three of those times – 2010, 2011 and 2016 – the Jayhawks had the nation’s No. 1 RPI.
KU’s strength of schedule has ranked in the top 10 in eight of head coach Bill Self’s 15 seasons. During that span, KU has had the nation’s toughest schedule three times: 2004-05, 2013-14 and 2014-15. Last year, KU ranked third in the RPI and second in strength of schedule; the Big 12 had the nation’s top-ranked conference RPI.
Six of KU’s nonconference foes competed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament – national champion Villanova, Kentucky, Michigan State, Arizona State, Tennessee (possible opponent in the Preseason NIT) and New Mexico State. Only twice has the defending NCAA Champion faced KU in Allen Fieldhouse the following season — UCLA in 1995-96 and Cincinnati in 1962-63. Kansas won both contests.
“This is definitely a tremendous nonconference schedule and for a young team it’s a lot to try to conquer, especially so early in the season when we have so many guys who will be playing pivotal roles,” Self said. “Hopefully it will be great preparation for once again playing in one of the best leagues, if not the best league, in the country. It’s going to be tough. I know our players will enjoy the challenge and I know our fans will enjoy watching them enjoy the challenge.
“We always play a great schedule,” Self continued, “but next year’s, certainly, has an opportunity to probably be most talked about going into the season because we’re hosting the reigning national champions. We saw what Villanova did to us in the Final Four, so that will be an exciting game for all our fans. We play Michigan State in the Champions Classic to start the season. Those are marquee names, and that doesn’t include hosting Stanford, or going to Arizona State, or the preseason NIT, in which we’re guaranteed to play two of these teams – Louisville, Tennessee or Marquette.”
Kansas is coming off an NCAA-record-setting 14-straight regular-season conference titles. The Jayhawks also won the Hoophall Miami Invitational, the Big 12 Tournament and advanced to KU’s 15th Final Four. The 2017-18 Jayhawks went 31-8 (13-5 Big 12), winning the conference by two games.
The Big 12 Conference schedule will be released later in the summer. Season ticket sales for KU’s home games, including the Dec. 8 game against New Mexico State at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, are on sale at KUAthletics.com. To order season tickets, fans must be active members of the Williams Education Fund; ticket orders are due July 13. Men’s basketball season tickets are allocated according to Williams Education Fund policies and subject to availability. More information is available through the Williams Education Fund at firstname.lastname@example.org or 785.864.3946.
Following is a complete list of KU’s 2018-19 non-conference opponents, along with their 2018 postseason accomplishments:
Villanova (Dec. 15, Lawrence) won the 2018 NCAA Championship, beating Kansas in the Final Four. Villanova went 36-4, winning its last 11 games en route to the national title. The Wildcats finished second in the Big East with a 14-4 league mark before winning the league tournament and later the NCAA title. In 17 seasons at Villanova, Jay Wright is 421-165 with 13 NCAA Tournament appearances and two NCAA Championships (2016 and 2018), defeating Kansas during both title runs. Dating back to 1968, Villanova holds a 4-3 series advantage and has won the last three meetings. Kansas will return this game on Dec. 21, 2019, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Kentucky (Jan. 26, Lexington, SEC/Big12 Challenge) won the 2018 SEC Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 before falling to Big 12 foe Kansas State, 61-58. Kentucky went 26-11 last season, finishing fourth in the Southeastern Conference regular season. Kansas has won the last three meetings with Kentucky, yet the Wildcats hold a 22-9 series advantage. KU is 4-1 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, including two victories over Kentucky.
Michigan State (Nov. 6, Indianapolis, Ind., Champions Classic) won the 2018 Big 10 regular-season title and reached the NCAA Tournament’s second round. Behind Naismith Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo, Michigan State went 30-5 overall and 16-2 in league play. The Spartans lead the all-time series with Kansas, 7-6, but the Jayhawks have won two of the last three meetings. Kansas is 3-4 in the Champions Classic, which features national powers KU, Michigan State, Duke and Kentucky. The Jayhawks have won their last two Champions Classic contests – against Kentucky in 2017 and Duke in 2016. In fact, in the 2016-17 season, Kansas defeated all three of the other Champions Classic participants.
Arizona State (Dec. 22, Tempe, Ariz.) reached the 2018 NCAA Tournament, going 20-12 overall (8-10 in the Pac-12, tied for eighth). This game will be the second of a home-and-home series; ASU won at Kansas, 95-85, on Dec. 22, 2018. The Sun Devils are coached by former Duke standout Bobby Hurley. This series is tied at 5-5. The Jayhawks have won two of the last three meetings. Prior to last season, KU last faced ASU on March 22, 2003, a 108-76 win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Oklahoma City. KU would go on to play for the 2003 NCAA title in New Orleans.
Tennessee (possible opponent in preseason NIT, Nov. 21 & 23, Brooklyn, N.Y.) was SEC co-champion in 2018 (with Auburn) and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament, losing to NCAA Tournament Cinderella Loyola-Chicago, 63-62. UT (26-9 overall last season, 13-5 in SEC play) is coached by Rick Barnes, who is used to playing Kansas; he was 7-19 against the Jayhawks as head coach at Texas from 1998-99 to 2014-15. Kansas leads the series 2-1: KU won in 2009, 92-85, in Allen Fieldhouse) and UT won in Knoxville, 76-68, in 2010. KU defeated the Vols, 82-67, in the semifinals of the 2014 Orlando Classic, an event KU eventually won.
Stanford (Dec. 1, Lawrence) reached the 2018 postseason NIT. Stanford third-year head coach Jerod Haase will face his alma mater for the third-straight season. Haase’s 1,264 points rank 33rd on the KU all-time scoring list and he also ranks on the Kansas career lists in 3-point field goals made (14th at 156), 3-pointers attempted (ninth at 461), assists (19th at 343) and steals (12th at 174). Last year the Cardinal went 19-16 overall and finished tied for third in the Pac-12 with an 11-7 record. Kansas leads the series with Stanford, 10-3, including last season’s 75-54 win on Dec. 22, 2017, in Sacramento. This series dates back to 1932.
Marquette (possible opponent in preseason NIT, Nov. 21 & 23, Brooklyn, N.Y.) reached the quarterfinals of the 2018 postseason NIT. Last season, the Golden Eagles posted at 21-14 overall mark and tied for sixth in the Big East Conference with a 9-9 league record. Head coach Steve Wojciechoski, former star guard for Duke, has guided Marquette to two-consecutive postseason appearances. Kansas is 6-1 all-time against Marquette and has won the last three meetings in a series that dates back to 1956. In the last matchup, Kansas defeated Marquette, 94-61, on April 5, 2003, in the national semifinals at the Final Four in New Orleans.
Louisville (possible opponent in preseason NIT, Nov. 21 & 23, Brooklyn, N.Y.) reached the quarterfinals of the 2018 postseason NIT. The Cardinals are coming off a 22-14 season in which it tied for ninth in the ACC with a 9-9 league record. They are coached by Chris Mack, who enters his first season at Louisville after leading Xavier to the NCAA Tournament eight of the last nine seasons. This 11-game series dates back to 1959; Kansas has a one-game edge over Louisville, 6-5. Kansas has won four of the last five meetings, the last being a KU 98-77 win on Jan. 16, 1993, in Louisville.
New Mexico State (Dec. 8, Kansas City, Mo., Jayhawk Shootout) reached the 2018 NCAA Tournament after winning the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) regular-season and WAC Tournament titles under first-year head coach Chris Jans. The Aggies lost to Clemson in the NCAA first round, finishing 28-6 overall and 12-2 in league play. Kansas is 3-0 against New Mexico State in a series that dates back to 1965, a KU 102-51 win in Allen Fieldhouse. In the last meeting, Kansas defeated NMSU, 75-56, in the opening round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament in Omaha.
Vermont (Nov. 12, Lawrence, preseason NIT home contest) won the 2018 America East Conference regular-season championship and reached the 2018 postseason NIT, losing to Middle Tennessee State in the first round. Early Bracketology has the Catamounts in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. Vermont head coach John Becker has guided the Catamounts to three league regular-season titles (2014, 2017, 2018). Kansas won the only series meeting with Vermont, 68-61, on Nov. 19, 2005, in Allen Fieldhouse.
Louisiana (Nov. 16, Lawrence, preseason NIT home contest) the 2018 Sun Belt regular-season champion, played in the 2018 postseason NIT, losing to LSU in the first round. Early Bracketology has the Ragin’ Cajuns in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. Louisiana went 27-7 in 2017-18, 16-2 in league play. The Ragin’ Cajuns are coached by Bob Marlin, who was named the 2018 Sun Belt Coach of the Year. The KU-Louisiana series is tied at 1-1; Louisiana won, 107-78, on Dec. 29, 1983, in New Orleans and Kansas won, 96-51, on Dec. 11, 2004, in Allen Fieldhouse.
Eastern Michigan (Dec. 29, Lawrence) reached the second round of the 2018 Collegeinsider.com Tournament before losing to Sam Houston State. The Eagles are coming off a 22-13 season; they finished second in the Mid-American Conference West Division with an 11-7 league record. In seven seasons at Eastern Michigan, head coach Rob Murphy has guided the Eagles to three postseason tournaments. Kansas and Eastern Michigan will be playing for the first time.
Wofford (Dec. 4, Lawrence) reached the 2018 Collegeinsider.com Tournament (lost to Central Michigan in the first round). Located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Wofford is coming off a 21-13 season in which the Terriers tied for fourth in the Southern Conference with an 11-7 league record. Wofford is coached by Mike Young, the winningest coach in school history (269-239 in 16 seasons). Kansas and Wofford will be meeting for the first time.
South Dakota (Dec. 18, Lawrence) earned a berth in the 2018 College Basketball Invitational after finishing second in the Summit League with an 11-3 conference record (26-9 overall). The Coyotes lost to eventual CBI champion North Texas in the event’s opening round. South Dakota alum Todd Lee took over as Coyote head coach in April after five seasons as associate head coach at Grand Canyon. Kansas and South Dakota will be meeting for the first time.
Emporia State (Oct. 25, Lawrence) is coming off a 9-19 season where it went 4-15 in the MIAA, finishing tied for 12th. Kansas is 20-3 all-time against Emporia State, including an 8-0 record in exhibition contests.
Washburn (Nov. 1, Lawrence) head coach Brett Ballard was a two-year letterwinner at Kansas in 2001-02 and enters his second season with the Ichabods. Last season, Ballard guided the Ichabods to an NCAA Tournament appearance, a 22-10 record and a third-place finish in the MIAA (14-5). The Kansas-Washburn series dates back to 1906 with KU leading 37-3. Included is a 7-0 record in exhibition play.
Kansas Men’s Basketball 2018-19 Nonconference Schedule (home games in ALL CAPS)
Oct. 25 (Thursday) – EMPORIA STATE (EXHIBITION)
Nov. 1 (Thursday) – WASHBURN (EXHIBITION)
Nov. 6 (Tuesday) – Michigan State (Indianapolis, Champions Classic)
Nov. 12 (Monday) – VERMONT (NIT home contest)
Nov. 16 (Friday) – LOUISIANA (NIT home contest)
Nov. 21 (Wednesday) – TBD (Brooklyn, N.Y., NIT semifinals)
Nov. 23 (Friday) – TBD (Brooklyn, N.Y., NIT finals)
Dec. 1 (Saturday) – STANFORD
Dec. 4 (Tuesday) – WOFFORD
Dec. 8 (Saturday) – NEW MEXICO STATE (Kansas City, Mo., Jayhawk Shootout)
Dec. 15 (Saturday) – VILLANOVA
Dec. 18 (Tuesday) – SOUTH DAKOTA
Dec. 22 (Saturday) – at Arizona State
Dec. 29 (Saturday) – EASTERN MICHIGAN
Jan. 26 (Saturday) – at Kentucky (SEC/Big 12 Challenge)
March 13-16 – Big 12 Championship (Kansas City, Mo.)
2019 NCAA Tournament Dates and Sites
March 17 – Selection Sunday
March 19-20 – First Four (Dayton, Ohio)
March 21 & 23 – First/Second Rounds (Hartford, Ct.; Des Moines, Iowa; Jacksonville, Fla.; Salt Lake City, Utah)
March 22 & 24 – First/Second Rounds (Columbia, S.C.; Columbus, Ohio; Tulsa, Okla.; Seattle, Wash.)
March 28 & 30 – Regional (West at Anaheim, Calif.; South at Louisville, Ky.)
March 29 & 31 – Regional (East at Washington, D.C.; Midwest at Kansas City, Mo.)
April 6 & 8 – Final Four (Minneapolis, Minn.)