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Kansas Basketball 2014-15 Schedule Preview: Non-conference

With the basketball season drawing ever closer, we take a look at the schedule Kansas faces this year, starting with the non-conference slate

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It's close enough to the beginning of the season now that we can start to get into the details of the upcoming season. Today we'll take a look at the non-conference slate, game by game. Next week we'll see how the schedule lines up for conference play.

Bill Self lamented scheduling such a treacherous non-conference slate last year, but this year's lineup doesn't look much easier. Here's a blow-by-blow account of what to expect

November 3: Washburn (Lawrence)
November 11: Emporia State (Lawrence)

These are our annual warmup games against lower division Kansas schools. I thought we were going to schedule Wichita State for one of these, but apparently they declined

November 14: UC-Santa Barbara (Lawrence)

We kick off the legitimate schedule with the Big West's UC Santa Barbara Gauchos. UCSB was respectable last year, with non-con victories over UNLV and Cal and second place finish in the Big West. If you thought this was just a nobody to get us ready for Kentucky, think again. Big man Alan Williams led UCSB with 21.3 PGG and 11.5 RPG, and returns for his senior year. They shouldn't be anything we can't handle, but don't expect this to be over at halftime, either

November 18: Kentucky (Indianapolis)

I probably don't need to tell you much about this one. This year's Champions Classic pits us against John Calipari and Kentucky, in a game sure to incite all kinds of Twitter smack talk. Barring something highly unlikely, Kentucky will come into this game the top ranked team in the country

November 24: Rider (Lawrence)

In full disclosure, I had to search to see what conference Rider is in and where they're located (MAAC and New Jersey, if you're interested). They went 9-11 in MAAC play last year, and should be easily dispatched. They gave up 1.11 PPP in the MAAC last year, so tune into this one if you like points. Technically, this game is part of the Orlando Classic

November 27: Rhode Island (Orlando Classic)

We play on Thanksgiving for the second year in a row. Grab some turkey and pie and turn on what should be an easy victory for the Jayhawks. Granted, after last year's Thanksgiving tournament nothing is a given, but Rhode Island went just 5-11 in the Atlantic 10 last year, and their only semi-impressive win was over LSU. This should be a nice addition to your Thanksgiving holiday

November 28: Tennessee/Santa Clara (Orlando Classic)

We'll play the winner of Tennessee/Santa Clara in our second game in Orlando. Santa Clara was awful last year, so expect to see Tennessee, who was in the Sweet 16 last year, but lost their top two scorers

November 30: TBD (Orlando Classic)

On the final day of the Orlando Classic, Kansas will likely play Michigan State for the trophy, or whatever the give the winner of the Orlando Classic. Michigan State lost a fair amount of talent from last year's up-and-down team, but they're still Michigan State, so this could be a great matchup, and our second big test in the opening month of the season

December 5: Florida (Lawrence)

No rest for the weary. Less than a week after the trip to Orlando and a potential heavyweight matchup, Kansas returns home to face Florida, who beat the Jayhawks in Gainesville last year. Florida lost a lot of talent, but Billy Donovan always recruits well, and you can expect another battle in this year's game

December 10: Georgetown (Washington DC)

We play Georgetown for the 3rd time in 4 years just five days after our big game against Florida. The Hoyas are coming off a down year, but getting Kansas at home, potentially coming off back-to-back games against Michigan State and Florida, they will likely be out for blood in this one. At least right now, this one makes me a bit nervous

December 13: Utah (Kansas City)

We head to the Sprint Center to face the Utes just three days after our trip to the capitol. Utah was ok last year, notching an NIT appearance, so this won't be one we can sleepwalk through (especially given some of our December performances at the Sprint Center

December 20: Lafayette (Lawrence)

Finally, a week off and a cupcake. Lafayette was horrendous last year, giving up 1.13 PPP and finishing 11-20, just one spot out of last place in the Patriot League

December 22: Temple (Philadelphia)

Not much of a break here, as the team travels to Philly just before Christmas. Fortunately, this isn't the type of Temple team we're used to seeing, if last year's 9-22 record is any indication. It doesn't help that last year's leading scorer is gone, either. It's a road game right before the holidays, but Kansas should be able to win this even if they don't bring it 100%

December 30: Kent State (Lawrence)

Kent State has had some OK seasons in recent years, but 2013-14 wasn't one of them. The Golden Flashes are coming off a 16-16 campaign where they won just seven MAC games. This won't be Lafayette or Rider, but it shouldn't be too much of a challenge, either

January 4: UNLV (Lawrence)

UNLV is typically a solid team, but they lost a lot last year. Leading scorer Bryce Dejean-Jones now finds himself at Iowa State, while UNLV's two big men who averaged double digit rebounds last year graduated. In fact, UNLV lost just about everybody and finds themselves in rebuilding mode. Still, UNLV is enough of a brand that they'll bring some talent to the table, and should be a decent lead-in to Big 12 play