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Kansas basketball schedule: Jayhawks will be challenged early and often

The Kansas Jayhawks face an extremely tough non-conference schedule, including games against Big Ten powers Michigan State and Ohio State.

Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Kansas may have lost stars Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor to the NBA, but that didn't stop coach Bill Self from scheduling a grueling non-conference slate that will give his new players a major challenge right off the bat.

John Gasaway of Basketball Prospectus (for ESPN Insider) examined five of the toughest non-conference schedules around the country, and the Jayhawks come in at No. 3.

In just the second game of the season, Kansas will take on Tom Izzo's Michigan State Spartans. The Jayhawks will face another Big Ten power, Ohio State, on Dec. 22. Then you can throw in three Pac-12 matchups against Washington State, Oregon State and Colorado. And finally, Kansas will take on the winner of Texas A&M and St. Louis in a CBE Classic game.

Gasaway feels that Kansas' defense, spearheaded by center Jeff Withey, will help the Jayhawks navigate their way through this tough schedule. However, the new offense may take some lumps along the way.