Following a brutal non-conference slate in 2011-12 for an inexperienced Kansas team coming off another devastating NCAA tournament upset loss, the Jayhawks had a sense of confidence that propelled them to an eighth straight Big 12 title.
The gauntlet included a four-game stretch that featured eventual national champion Kentucky, followed by Georgetown, UCLA and Duke in the Maui Invitational. After going 2-2 with wins over Georgetown and UCLA, the Jayhawks received a brief break before facing South Florida, Long Beach State, Ohio State and Davidson prior to conference play.
Despite a frustrating loss to Davidson at the Sprint Center, Bill Self had his KU team energized and ready for another Big 12 title run.
The upcoming non-conference slate may not be as overwhelmingly challenging, but the Jayhawks still face two Big Ten teams and a host of upstart programs before their new-look conference schedule.
November 9: vs. Southeast Missouri State
November 13: vs. Michigan State (Champions Classic - Atlanta, GA)
November 15: vs. Chattanooga (CBE Classic - Lawrence, KS)
November 19: vs. Washington State (CBE Classic - Kansas City, MO)
November 20: vs. Texas A&M/Saint Louis (CBE Classic - Kansas City, MO)
November 26: vs. San Jose State
November 30: vs. Oregon State (Kansas City, MO)
December 8: vs. Colorado
December 15: vs. Belmont
December 18: vs. Richmond
December 22: at Ohio State
December 29: vs. American University
January 6: vs. Temple
Traditional powers Ohio State and Michigan State stand out on KU's non-conference schedule. With Deshaun Thomas, Aaron Craft and company back in Columbus, it could be a wild game—especially since the Buckeyes will be seeking revenge for last year's Final Four defeat.
Before that matchup, Michigan State's Tom Izzo will lead junior guard Keith Appling and highly touted 5-star recruit Gary Harris (ranking via rivals.com) into Atlanta for part two of the three-year Champions Classic—a series that will showcase Kansas vs. Duke next season in Chicago.
While potential victories over Colorado, Washington State, Oregon State and Temple should slightly boost the Jayhawks' RPI, the big, resume-building wins must come from the trip to Atlanta and their visit to Ohio State at the end of December.