Kansas State University

KU, K-State men’s basketball schedules finalized

The Big 12 Conference released its 2012-13 men’s basketball schedule Thursday, completing the schedules for Kansas and Kansas State.

K-State and first-year coach Bruce Weber open Big 12 play with a home game against Oklahoma State on Jan. 5. KU opens four days later against Iowa State at Allen Fieldhouse.

Games between the Jayhawks and Wildcats this season are Jan. 22 in Manhattan and Feb. 11 in Lawrence.

A look at KU

A breakdown of the Jayhawks’ full schedule reveals what could be a tough nine-day stretch. After opening the Big 12 schedule with Iowa State at home and Texas Tech on the road, the Jayhawks will face a rebuilding Baylor program on Jan. 14 before road games at Texas (Jan. 19) and K-State and first-year coach Bruce Weber on Jan. 22. Escape those road games with two victories, and the Jayhawks should be in good position to make a run at their ninth straight Big 12 title.

Here are four more games with interesting storylines:

On Nov. 13, the new-look Jayhawks — with eight scholarship freshmen — will be tested right out of the gate in the Champions Classic against Michigan State at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Spartans lost standout point-forward Draymond Green, but should still be a factor in the Big Ten race.

Jan. 28, the Jayhawks see West Virginia coach Bob Huggins as a new conference opponent. The Jayhawks’ first visit to Morgantown, W.Va., figures to be a rowdy affair.

KU plays at Oklahoma State on Feb. 20 and KU coach Bill Self’s return visits to Stillwater have a tendency to be interesting. And the Cowboys, with highly touted freshman guard Marcus Smart, should have plenty of offensive talent.

Finally, KU makes its first Big 12 visit to TCU on Feb. 6. OK, this probably won’t be close. The Horned Frogs’ basketball program is a work in process. But for years, the Jayhawks would play a quasi-home game in conference play when they traveled to Colorado. That game is gone — but with thousands of Jayhawk alums in the Metroplex — this will likely have the feel of Allen Fieldhouse South.

A look at K-State

It’s not hard to spot the most difficult stretch of K-State games. The opponents, and TV interest, ramp up significantly for the Wildcats on Feb. 9 and don’t let up until March 2, with seven straight games being played on a Saturday-Monday rotation.

ESPN is televising six of the games on one of its networks. TV for a trip to Texas on Feb. 23 hasn’t been announced.

During that stretch, K-State will play in ESPN “Big Monday” games twice. First comes a trip to Allen Fieldhouse against Kansas on Feb. 11. One week later K-State will welcome former coach Bob Huggins back to Bramlage Coliseum for the first time as West Virginia’s coach.

K-State and its fans will surely point to both games as premier matchups, but the games surrounding them will be just as important. Iowa State visits Bramlage Coliseum two days before K-State heads to Kansas, and Baylor comes to Manhattan two days before West Virginia does.

That means the Wildcats will have to be prepare for the Jayhawks and Mountaineers on short turnarounds.

On Feb. 23, K-State heads to Texas and returns home two days later to face Texas Tech on ESPNU. On March 2, K-State ends the grueling stretch with a road trip to Baylor.

How the Wildcats handle those seven games could determine their chances of contending for a Big 12 championship and greatly impact their postseason seeding.

In nonconference play, K-State will be tested on neutral courts against Gonzaga and Florida and on the road against George Washington. And if it can win two home games in the early stages of the NIT Season Tip-Off, it will also face difficult opponents in the final rounds at Madison Square Garden.