Kansas opens up its 2023-24 basketball season in Lawrence, Kansas on Nov. 6 against North Carolina Central and has another home game against Manhattan before the Jayhawks’ face their first tough test of the season at the Champions Classic against Kentucky on Nov. 14 in Chicago.
Kansas is the No. 1 ranked team in the CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 and is one of the favorites to cut down the nets this spring at the Final Four. The Jayhawks added the top transfer available in the portal in Michigan center Hunter Dickinson. Kansas also brings back three experienced starters from last season: Dajuan Harris, Kevin McCullar and KJ Adams.
Before the real games begin, Kansas has an exhibition game on the road against Illinois on Oct. 29. That game will raise money for the ongoing relief efforts after the tragic wildfires in Maui, Hawaii and will also serve as a homecoming for Kansas coach Bill Self. The preseason game was set to be a closed scrimmage between the two programs but it will now be open to the public for fans to attend.
Another intriguing matchup for Kansas is a home game against the reigning national champion, UConn. The Huskies are expected to be one of the top teams in the country despite losing Jordan Hawkins, Adama Sanogo and Andre Jackson Jr. to the NBA Draft. This game is part of the fifth annual Big East/Big 12 Battle.
Here are the top five nonconference games for the Kansas Jayhawks this season
When: Dec. 1, 2023 Where: Allen Fieldhouse (Lawrence, Kansas)
UConn had one of the most dominant March Madness runs in the history of the NCAA Tournament and is back for more this season. The Huskies lost three very important players to the NBA Draft but Donovan Clingan is expected to take a massive jump this season to replace some of that production that was lost. Other players expected to make an impact are returners Tristen Newton and Alex Karaban and Rutgers transfer Cam Spencer. This game is happening four weeks after the college basketball season officially starts and should be one of the best matchups of the season. It doesn’t hurt for the entertainment aspect that this is a home game for Kansas and not a neutral-site matchup.
When: Nov. 14, 2023 Where: United Center (Chicago)
This game was previewed in Kentucky’s nonconference preview and it ranked as the No. 1 matchup for the Wildcats this season. If Kansas didn’t have a date with the champs, this game would easily be the best matchup for both teams this season. One of the best aspects of college basketball is all the big time matchups you get during the first few weeks of the season. Kentucky isn’t as strong as it once was but they have a loaded recruiting class coming in that’s headlined by DJ Wagner and Justin Edwards. We will learn a lot about both teams after this team.
When: Dec. 16, 2023 Where: Assembly Hall (Bloomington, Indiana)
This will be the toughest road game Kansas has before it starts league play at the turn of the calendar year. This is a matchup of traditional blue blood powers and although Indiana isn’t as dominant as it once was, Mike Woodson has the Hoosiers program back in a good place. Returning forward Malik Reneau, Oregon transfer Kel’el Ware and five-star forward Mackenzie Mgbako should help Woodson replace the void Trayce Jackson-Davis and Jalen Hood-Schifino left. The Jayhawks could be on upset alert when they travel to Bloomington.
When: Dec. 9, 2023 Where: Allen Fieldhouse (Lawrence, Kansas)
How can you forget about a matchup between two former Big 12 foes? This game has been promoted as the Hy-Vee Hoops Border Showdown since 2021 and is one of the oldest rivalries in college basketball. The first game played between the two programs in hoops was in 1907 and the rivalry took a hit when Missouri departed for the SEC in 2012. The Jayhawks have won 13 of the last 15 matchups, including a blowout win on the road last season. This game will be played in Columbia next season before being shifted to a neutral site matchup in 2025 and 2026.
When: Dec. 30, 2023 Where: T-Mobile Center (Kansas City, Missouri)
Speaking of games with tradition, this is a matchup between two in-state programs that dates back 115 years. This will be the first meeting since Wichita State took down Kansas in the Sweet 16 during the 2015 NCAA Tournament. The Shockers aren’t the same mid-major powerhouse that Kansas ran into during that tournament, but a neutral site game against a quality opponent should serve as one final test before Big 12 play starts.