Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber seeks right mix in non-conference schedule

K-State basketball announces nonconference slate

Arne Green
Salina Journal
Super-senior Mike McGuirl (00) is one of four returning starters for Kansas State in 2021-22. The Wildcats announced their non-conference schedule Thursday.

Bruce Weber has been around long enough to know that a better win-loss record alone is not enough for Kansas State basketball to end its two-year NCAA Tournament drought. 

So with a young but battle-tested roster, enhanced by three veteran transfers, Weber and his coaching staff sought just the right balance in constructing its 2021-22 non-conference schedule.

Highlighting the eight-game home schedule is a Dec. 8 matchup against Marquette in the Big East/Big 12 Battle series. The Wildcats also have road games at Wichita State on Dec. 5 at INTRUST Bank Arena and Dec. 19 against Nebraska, plus face a loaded field in the Hall of Fame Classic with Illinois, Arkansas and Cincinnati on Nov. 22-23 at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Mo.


“I have said a number of times that building your non-conference schedule is nearly as important as recruiting,” Weber said in a statement. “As a staff, you want to build a quality schedule that gives your team a chance at an NCAA Tournament bid, but also help develop them as the season goes along.

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"We still have a relatively young team, so it was important to give them more experience especially at home to build confidence.”

The Wildcats return nine lettermen, including four of the top five scorers, from last year's 9-22 team that finished ninth in the Big 12 with a 4-14 mark. They are led by super-senior Mike McGuirl and sophomores Nijel Pack, Selton Miguel and Davion Bradford.

K-State also added three transfers — senior guard Mark Smith from Missouri, junior guard Markquis Nowell from Little Rock and sophomore forward Ismael Massoud from Wake Forest — along with freshmen Maximus Edwards and Logan Landers.

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"We already play in the best conference in the country, so our guys are going to play outstanding competition," Weber said. "But to then add the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City with teams like Arkansas, Cincinnati and Illinois and the three road games at Wichita State, Nebraska and Ole Miss, we feel confident this non-conference schedule gives our team a number of challenges and opportunities to build toward an NCAA Tournament bid."

The Wildcats face Mississippi on the road Jan. 29 as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

K-State will play four of its first six games at home in Bramlage Coliseum, starting with Florida A&M on Nov. 10 and Omaha on Nov. 17 before heading to Kansas City for the Hall of Fame Classic. They then entertain North Dakota on Nov. 28, followed by a Dec. 1 matchup with Albany.

Other non-conference home dates are Dec. 12 against Green Bay, Dec. 21 against McNeese State and Dec. 29 against Morgan State.

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The road games at Wichita State and Nebraska renew longstanding rivalries. K-State announced a four-game series with WSU last July, with this year's game in Wichita followed by a 2022 home game at Bramlage, a 2023 matchup at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City and a 2024 date at Koch Arena on the Wichita State campus.

The Dec. 5 game will mark the first meeting since 2003 between the Wildcats and Shockers.

A three-game series with former Big 12 foe Nebraska was scheduled to open last year in Kansas City, but was pushed back a year because of COVID-19, and now will take place at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln. The teams last met on Feb. 23, 2011.



NOVEMBER — 10, Florida A&M; 17, Omaha; 22-23, Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, Mo. (Illinois, Arkansas, Cincinnati); 28, North Dakota.

DECEMBER — 1, Albany; 5, vs. Wichita State at INBRUST Bank Arena; 8, Marquette; 12, Green Bay; 19, at Nebraska; 21, McNeese State; 29, Morgan State.

JANUARY — 29, at Mississippi.