MANHATTAN, Kan. (K-State release) Nine home games at Bramlage Coliseum, including a marquee matchup with Marquette, neutral site games in Florida and New Jersey and a meeting with Saint Louis at the Sprint Center highlight the 2019-20 Kansas State men’s basketball non-conference schedule released by officials on Monday (July 1).
The 117th season of K-State men’s basketball officially gets underway on Tuesday, November 5 – in the earliest start in school history – when the Wildcats host reigning Summit League Tournament champion North Dakota State at Bramlage Coliseum. The team will also play a pair of exhibition games – Emporia State and Washburn – in late October prior to the season opener.
“We feel this is a challenging non-conference schedule especially for such a new, young team,” said head coach Bruce Weber. “We have veterans who have been in big games, but now have to change roles, to go with some new guys who have to step up to a new level. At the end of the day, the schedule has a good balance of home games to go with some road and neutral site opportunities to help in their development.”
K-State previously announced several components of its non-conference schedule, including a road date at UNLV on Saturday, November 9 in the start of a home-and-home series, the Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans Fort Myers Tipoff on Monday and Wednesday, November 25 and 27, a matchup with Mississippi State in the fourth annual Never Forget Tribute Classic presented by United Rentals on Saturday, December 14 and the Wildcat Classic contest with Saint Louis at the Sprint Center in Kansas City on Saturday, December 21.
An opponent for the seventh annual Big 12/SEC Challenge, which is set for Saturday, January 25, 2020, will be announced at a later date. K-State will be on the road for the Challenge for the second consecutive season.
In all, the Wildcats will play at least 18 home games in 2019-20, including the nine-game Big 12 schedule with visits from NCAA Tournament teams Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech as well as NIT participants TCU and Texas and CBI participant West Virginia. The complete conference schedule will be released later.
“With the build of our team, we wanted a road game early (at UNLV) to show the young guys a glimpse of what they are going to face in the Big 12,” said Weber. “The Fort Myers field is really solid with teams from the ACC (Pittsburgh), Big Ten (Northwestern) and Missouri Valley (Bradley). Obviously, it will be exciting to get a really strong opponent at home in Marquette, which is returning one of the best players in the country – Markus Howard – in the inaugural Big 12/BIG EAST series.
“Then to wrap up against one of the top teams in the SEC in Mississippi State at a neutral site, another NCAA Tournament caliber team in Saint Louis for our annual Sprint Center game and to host a quality team like Tulsa – which has beaten us the last two years – should provide valuable experience for our guys.”
K-State will play two exhibitions prior to the regular-season opener against North Dakota State on Tuesday, November 5. The Wildcats will play MIAA opponents Emporia State on Friday, October 25 and Washburn on Wednesday, October 30. It marks the first time since 2017 that the team will play two exhibitions.
The Wildcats and Bison will meet in a season opener for the second time in their respective histories and the first since a 70-61 win on November 19, 2004. It will also be the first time that K-State has opened a season against an NCAA Tournament team since an 88-69 loss at Arizona on November 16, 1999. NDSU made an inspiring run to win the Summit League Tournament and defeat North Carolina Central in the First Four before losing to Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
A few days after playing the earliest opener in school history, K-State will play its earliest road tilt with a trip to UNLV, which will start a home-and-home series between the schools. It is the first matchup since a 63-59 win by the Runnin’ Rebels at the Sprint Center in 2010, while it will be the first meeting at the Thomas & Mack Center since the arena’s second season in 1984.
K-State will return home for games against Monmouth (Wednesday, November 13) and Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Tuesday, November 19) before playing contests in the Fort Myers Tipoff at the Suncoast Credit Union in Fort Myers, Florida, on Monday, November 25 and Wednesday, November 27. The field includes Missouri Valley Conference Tournament champion Bradley, the Big Ten’s Northwestern and the ACC’s Pittsburgh. A full tournament schedule is expected to be released in the coming weeks.
The Wildcats will open December with three consecutive home games, including a highly anticipated visit from Marquette on Saturday, December 7 in the inaugural Big 12/BIG EAST series. The Golden Eagles, which snapped a four-game losing streak in the series in last season’s win at home, will be making their first visit to Manhattan since a 56-55 loss at Ahearn Field House on January 2, 1986 and the first-ever to Bramlage Coliseum.
Following a home game with Alabama State (Wednesday, December 11), the Wildcats will meet SEC foe Mississippi State in the fourth annual Never Forget Tribute Classic on Saturday, December 14 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. This will be the fourth meeting between the schools, but the first matchup in more than 25 seasons since 1994. The Bulldogs advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season after a 10-year absence.
K-State will host the Wildcat Classic at the Sprint Center for the ninth time when the team plays Saint Louis on Saturday, December 21. The two schools will be meeting for the 20th time, including the first time in some place other than Manhattan or St. Louis, with the Wildcats holding a 10-9 edge in the series.
The team concludes the 2019 portion of their non-conference schedule with a visit from Tulsa on Sunday, December 29, which will wrap up a three-game series with the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa leads the all-time series, 7-1, including three consecutive wins, but this will be the first visit to Bramlage Coliseum since 1989.
A visit to a yet-to-be determined SEC foe will finish off non-conference play on January 25, 2020.
The reigning Big 12 regular-season co-champions, K-State is expected to return eight lettermen in 2019-20, which includes All-Big 12 honorable mention selection Xavier Sneed (10.6 ppg., 5.5 rpg.) and fellow senior Makol Mawien (7.0 ppg., 4.9 rpg.), from a squad that has posted consecutive 25-win seasons and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season a year ago.
The Wildcats also return rising juniors Cartier Diarra (6.8 ppg., 3.3 rpg.), Mike McGuirl (3.6 ppg., 1.5 rpg.) and Levi Stockard III (1.8 ppg., 1.5 rpg.) as well as a highly-regarded signing class that includes a trio of Top 200 high school players in DaJuan Gordon, Antonio Gordon and Montavious Murphy and NJCAA All-American David Sloan.
**2019-20 NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE**
Friday Oct. 25 EMPORIA STATE (Exh.)
Wednesday Oct. 30 WASHBURN (Exh.)
Tuesday Nov. 5 NORTH DAKOTA STATE
Saturday Nov. 9 @UNLV
Wednesday Nov. 13 MONMOUTH
Tuesday Nov. 19 ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF
Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans Fort Myers Tipoff (Suncoast Credit Union Arena, Fort Myers, Fla.)
Possible Opponents: Bradley, Northwestern, Pittsburgh
Monday Nov. 25 vs. TBD
Wednesday Nov. 27 vs. TBD
Monday Dec. 2 FLORIDA A&M
Saturday Dec. 7 MARQUETTE
Wednesday Dec. 11 ALABAMA STATE
Never Forget Tribute Classic Presented by United Rentals (Prudential Center, Newark, N.J.)
Saturday Dec. 14 vs. Mississippi State
Wildcat Classic (Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo.)
Saturday Dec. 21 vs. Saint Louis
Sunday Dec. 29 TULSA
Big 12-SEC Challenge
Saturday Jan. 25 at TBD