ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan researched and ranked the 10 toughest non-conference schedules in men’s basketball. Kansas finished No. 1.
Toughest: vs. Duke (Nov. 12 in Chicago), at Colorado (Dec. 7), at Florida (Dec. 10), New Mexico (Dec. 14), Georgetown (Dec. 21), San Diego State (Jan. 5)
Next-toughest: Iona (Nov. 19), Battle 4 Atlantis (Nov. 28-30 in Nassau, Bahamas)
The rest: Louisiana-Monroe (Dec. 8), Towson (Nov. 22), Toledo (Dec. 30)
No one else makes the most of the two months preceding conference play: The Jayhawks have just two true cupcakes on their docket (Iona and Towson are plenty talented, and you likely will see them in March). The rest of the slate is populated by a combination of elite fixtures (the Andrew Wiggins-Jabari Parker matchup at the Champions Classic just needs to get here already, please), brutal road games (at Colorado, at Florida), very solid home fixtures (New Mexico, Georgetown, San Diego State) and a high-quality exempt tournament (the Battle 4 Atlantis) which contains Tennessee, Villanova and Iowa among its potential upset threats.
Especially interesting? This is not a normal Kansas season. Most years, Self would unveil a schedule like this (though rarely this tough) to a crop of veteran, experienced, developmentally ripened veterans. This year, he will lead an almost entirely new batch of young players - featuring Wiggins, yes, but also classmates Wayne Selden, Joel Embiid,Brannen Greene and Conner Frankamp - into the breach. Watching how that team develops and congeals in the early months is going to be highly intriguing, far more so than any argument about who has the best schedule in the country. That debate should be settled.