Yesterday we took a look at the best games in the nonconference against mid majors, and today we look at the best games against power 5 opponents. Once again, Bill Self has lined up a murderer’s row of opponents in the nonconference schedule, and the Jayhawks could set themselves up with a #1 seed in March with a good nonconference performance.
5. Duke (Last season: 25-11, KenPom #17)
Duke will be the preseason #1, and Grayson Allen might be the preseason player of the year. The matchup in the Champions Classic could pit the nation’s best 2 backcourts against each other as well.
It is listed as just the 5th best game, however, because Kansas will be flying to New York from Hawaii, where they’ll meet Indiana just four days earlier. Not a recipe for a well played game.
4. Nebraska (Last season: 16-18, KenPom #85)
Welcome back, old friend. It will be nice to renew an old Big 12 rivalry when the Cornhuskers come to town. Unfortunately they’ll be without Andrew White, who has transferred to Syracuse. They’ll also be without Shavon Shields, who has graduated, and thus without their two best players from last year. Nebraska will likely lean heavily on Louisville transfer Anton Gill, but it doesn’t look like they’ll offer much resistance. Maybe call up Colorado and Texas A&M to complete the set.
3. Stanford (Last season: 15-15, KenPom #102)
Speaking of old friends, first year Stanford head coach is former Jayhawk Jerod Haase. Haase was 80-53 in four seasons at UAB, and if he were 10 years younger would be a good potential Bill Self replacement candidate. As it is, we’ll see how the Cardinal faithful take to a guy who also played at Cal. As for the team, Stanford returns some veterans and had some good results last year, but it is worth noting Stanford finished in the 200s in both 2 point and 3 point percentage (as well as 2 and 3 point percentage allowed).
2. Kentucky (Last season: 27-9, KenPom #6)
Last season Kentucky and Kansas met in Allen Fieldhouse in one of the games of the season, and the return matchup should be great as well. As is usually the case with Kentucky, they’ll have a talented team with a ton of youth, and it’s anyone’s guess as to how they’ll respond. Either way, it will be a good test for both teams to see where they stack up at the end of the nonconference season.
1. Indiana (Last season: 27-8, KenPom #11)
This is an easy #1, both because the Hoosiers look strong again this year, and because it opens the season. The Jayhawks and Hoosiers will travel to Hawaii, and it should be a fun one. Obviously Indiana has to replace Yogi Ferrell, but will also have to replace Max Bielfeldt and Nick Zeisloft, who shot 45 and 42 percent from deep last season. Thomas Bryant could be one of the best big men in the country, and will be a big test for Landen Lucas defensively and Carlton Bragg offensively. Also watch out for OG Anunoby, who is being pegged as one of the breakout players of the season.