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32 Days Until Kansas Basketball: The 5 Best Mid Major Opponents on the Schedule

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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional-Kansas vs Villanova Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

A Bill Self staple, lately, has been extremely tough scheduling. Between the Champions Classic, whichever holiday tournament they end up playing in, and the every so often home and home with a program like Kentucky or Ohio State, Kansas has no shortage of marquee opponents.

But the Jayhawks also have no shortage of tough mid majors who are contenders to win their league. These are as important as any, as it gives the Jayhawks a glimpse of what to expect come March. This year is no different, as Kansas has packed its slate with some tough mid major challenges.

5. Siena (Last year: 21-13, KenPom Rank: 128)

Siena finished 3rd in the MAAC last season, but loses just one starter off last year’s team. The Saints ranked 6th nationally in offensive rebound rate, so it will be an early test for the Jayhawks’ rebounding abilities. Watch out for Nico Clareth who averaged 13 points as a freshman, shooting 57.5 percent on twos. Coming just three days after the Champions Classic, this game will be no home opener picnic.

4. UNC Asheville (Last year: 22-12, KenPom Rank: 131)

Asheville blitzed through the Big South tournament to take that league’s automatic bid, and appear back for more. They lost two of their best players to transfer, but still should have quite a bit of depth. They ranked 12th last year in forcing turnovers, which shouldn’t really worry an experienced backcourt, but it will be good practice for some of the teams in the Big 12.

3. UMKC (Last year: 12-19, KenPom Rank: 250)

On here mostly for nostalgia purposes, UMKC hasn’t been to Allen Fieldhouse since January 5, 2011, a 99-52 Kansas win, and the Roos have just 1 Power 5 win since then. They probably won’t get another here as they weren’t good at much last season, but senior guard Martez Harrison and sophomore Lavell Boyd should be fun to watch.

2. Long Beach State (Last year: 20-15, KenPom Rank: 107)

Coach Dan Monson is best known for starting the Gonzaga train, but also has become known in college basketball circles for playing anyone who will give him a check. Part of this is because he gets to keep a portion of the proceeds, which is honestly a pretty genius move by both parties. Long Beach was a couple possessions away from the NCAA tournament last year, and probably are the Big West favorites this year.

1. UAB (Last year: 26-7, KenPom Rank: 116)

The Blazers suffered a shock loss in the CUSA tournament last year, but are tabbed as the preseason favorites this season. UAB was 37th in eFG last year and 5th nationally in blocking shots, so they will be no cupcake. With four starters back, including Chris Cokley, who had an offensive rating of 120 last year, the Jayhawks are no guarantee to make the CBE finals.