Big 12 basketball schedules released for KU, K-State

Courtesy: KU Athletics

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas’ 2015-16 men’s basketball schedule potentially includes 18 games against opponents that competed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, making the Jayhawks’ strength of schedule once again one of the toughest in the country. That number counts home-and-home contests against six Big 12 teams that will be gunning to knock off the 11-time defending league regular-season champion Jayhawks.

Seventeen of the Jayhawks’ 18 Big 12 Conference games this season will air on the ESPN family of networks, according to the schedule announced by the league office Thursday. The lone exception is the conference opener Jan. 2 vs. Baylor in Allen Fieldhouse, which CBS will televise. As has been the case since 1992-93, every Kansas game on the schedule will be televised, either on an ESPN network, CBS, the CBS Sports Network or Jayhawk TV. The complete TV schedule will be released at a later date.

Included in the 18 possible foes from last year’s NCAA Tournament are Big 12 rivals Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and West Virginia. Oklahoma and West Virginia each advanced to the Sweet 16 a season ago. In addition to those 12 games, non-conference Final Four participants Michigan State and Kentucky, appear on KU’s slate. Other NCAA Tournament foes that KU will definitely play include Harvard and San Diego State. Kansas could also meet Indiana, St. John’s or UCLA in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. Last season, KU ranked second in NCAA Division I strength of schedule and the Jayhawks have ranked 10th or higher in five of the last six seasons in schedule toughness.

Kansas returns four starters and 11 letterwinners from last season’s 27-9 team that won KU’s 11th-straight, 15th Big 12 and NCAA-leading 58th overall conference regular-season title with a 13-5 league record. In 2014-15, the Jayhawks posted their 18th undefeated season inside historic Allen Fieldhouse by going 15-0 in the venue’s 60th year of existence. Additionally, KU led its conference in home attendance for the 29th-straight season, beginning in 1986-87, with an average of 16,383 last season. KU has sold out of 227 consecutive regular-season games in Allen Fieldhouse dating back to the 2001-02 season.

Senior forward Perry Ellis is one of four returning all-conference Jayhawks from 2014-15. A Wichita, Kansas native, Ellis was an All-Big 12 First Team selection last season, leading Kansas in scoring (13.8 ppg) and rebounding (6.9 rpg). The 2014 Orlando Classic MVP, Ellis was also named to the 2015 Academic All-Big 12 First Team and the 2015 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Guard Frank Mason III, from Petersburg, Virginia, was an All-Big 12 Second Team honoree who was second on the team in scoring with 12.6 points per game and led Kansas with 142 assists and 50 steals in 2014-15. Mason’s 42.9 percent shooting from three-point range was best on the KU team last season. Guard Wayne Selden, Jr., from Roxbury, Massachusetts, was a 2015 All-Big 12 Honorable Mention selection who led Kansas with 46 three-pointers made last year as he averaged 9.4 points per contest. Senior forward Jamari Traylor (4.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg in 2014-15) started 18 games last season for KU.

Kansas has won five of the last nine Phillips 66 Big 12 Championships with its last being the 2013 title. This year’s event will again be held at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, March 9-12 and NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday will be March 13. KU holds the active consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance streak at 26 beginning in 1990.

Holding down tradition, the 31st Annual Late Night in the Phog is set for Oct. 9, in Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas Schedule Notables:
–This will mark the fifth-straight year of Big 12 round-robin competition to determine one true champion in men’s basketball. KU went 16-2 in winning the title in 2012, tied Kansas State going 14-4 in 2013 and won it outright each of the last two seasons going 14-4 in 2014 and 13-5 in 2015. The Jayhawks have won 11-straight, 15 Big 12 and NCAA-leading 58 all-time regular-season titles.
–For the 10th-straight year, and the 16th time since the inception of the Big 12, KU will be featured on ESPN’s Big Monday four times: Jan. 4 vs. Oklahoma, Jan. 25 at Iowa State, Feb. 15 vs. Oklahoma State and Feb. 29 at Texas. Kansas is 54-19 all-time on Big Monday (31-1 at home, 23-18 on the road), including 35-11 under head coach Bill Self.
–For the fifth-consecutive, year the Jayhawks will play as part of the Champions Classic when they go up against 2015 Final Four participant Michigan State in Chicago on Nov. 17. Kansas defeated Michigan State, 61-56, in last season’s Orlando Classic title game. Duke will play Kentucky in the other Champions Classic contest.
–In May 2013, the Big 12 and Southeastern Conferences announced an annual men’s basketball challenge that began during the 2013-14 season. KU and Kentucky will meet for the first time in the challenge with this season’s contest in Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 30.
–Kansas is the only school in the Big 12 to have a winning series record against every conference team in men’s basketball.
–Kansas is first in the conference in wins with a 258-54 record in Big 12 regular-season games. Texas is next at 202-110. Including the Big 12 tournament, Kansas is tops at 295-59.
–Big 12 basketball has been ranked among the top five conferences in final RPI (post-NCAA Championship) for eight-straight seasons and 13 of the last 14 years (since 2002). The Big 12 has had No. 1 in overall RPI in each of the last two seasons.

Courtesy: K-State Athletics

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State will open the Big 12 Conference portion of its men’s basketball schedule at home against West Virginia on Saturday, January 2.

The Wildcats, who own the second-most Big 12 wins (52) in the last five seasons, will play 14 league games against teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament a year ago, including seven in Bramlage Coliseum. In addition, five of the nine home league contests will also fall on a Saturday, including matchups with NCAA Tournament participants Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, West Virginia as well as the annual Sunflower Showdown with Kansas.

K-State is 58-18 (.763) at home in Big 12 play since the 2006-07 season.

“I think I say this every year but the schedule will again be very challenging,” said fourth-year head coach Bruce Weber. “There are five Big 12 teams in most of the early preseason polls, including three in the Top 10, so the league should once again be one of the best, if not, the best, in the country. I think this year more than ever, it doesn’t matter what team you play on a given day, you better be ready to play at a high level every day to be successful.”

K-State will have 15 of its 18 conference contests broadcast on one of ESPN’s family of networks, including the home game with Kansas on Saturday, February 20 and the road contest at Iowa State on Saturday, February 27 on either ESPN or ESPN2. The squad will also play six times on ESPNU, which includes the opener with West Virginia, while there will be seven appearances on ESPNews. The three league games not on ESPN networks (the road game at Texas on January 5 and home games with Texas Tech on January 12 and TCU on March 2) will be broadcast as part of the institutionally controlled television package, which will be announced at a later date.

After opening league play with West Virginia, the Wildcats will play back-to-back road games at Texas on Tuesday, January 5 and Oklahoma on Saturday, January 9 before returning home for consecutive tilts against Texas Tech on Tuesday, January 12 and Iowa State on Saturday, January 16. The squad finishes the month with road games against Baylor (Wednesday, January 20) and West Virginia (Tuesday, January 26) in between a home contest with Oklahoma State on Saturday, January 23. K-State hosts Ole Miss in the Big 12-SEC Challenge on Saturday, January 30.

The Wildcats will open February with a road trip to Kansas on Wednesday, February 3 before hosting Oklahoma (Saturday, February 6) and Baylor (Wednesday, February 10) in consecutive home games. The team will play back-to-back road trip the next week with Oklahoma State on Saturday, February 13 and TCU on Wednesday, February 17. The squad follows with two straight home games, beginning with Kansas on Saturday, February 20 and finishing with Texas on Monday, February 22. The regular season rounds out with two road games in its last three contests, including Iowa State on Saturday, February 27 and Texas Tech on Saturday, March 5 with Senior Night slated for Wednesday, March 2 against TCU.

The Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship will be held Wednesday through Saturday, March 9-12, at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

The Wildcats return four players with starting experience in 2015-16 to go with the influx of seven newcomers, including PARADE All-American Dean Wade (St. John, Kansas/St. John) and NJCAA First Team All-American Carlbe Ervin II (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma/Connors State College). Senior guard Justin Edwards (6.3 ppg., 3.3 rpg.) is the team’s top returner in both scoring and steals (37), while junior forward Wesley Iwundu (5.8 ppg., 3.5 rpg.) is the leading returner in rebounding (108), assists (61), blocks (20) and minutes (780).

Season tickets for the 2015-16 season are now available and can be purchased in a variety of ways, including toll free at (800) 221.CATS (2287), online at http://www.kstatesports.com/tickets and in-person at the Athletics Ticket Office located in Bramlage Coliseum.

The remaining game times as well as the third-tier television slate will be released in the coming weeks.

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