Bruce Weber believes he has shored up the non-conference scheduling problems that plagued his Kansas State Wildcats for much of the 2017-18 season.
Weber and K-State on Wednesday announced a noncon schedule that the seventh-year Wildcat coach called "strong," one he said would provide "a good combination of home games as well as some road and neutral-site challenges that will get us ready for the Big 12."
A year ago, K-State nearly choked on a noncon schedule that ranked in the low to middle 300s for most of the season. Despite finishing 25-12 overall, 10-8 in the Big 12 and eventually reaching the Elite Eight for only the third time since 1988, K-State entered the final two weeks of the regular season perched precariously on the NCAA bubble.
Weber doesn't foresee such problems this season with a schedule that features three Paradise Jam games in the U.S. Virgin Islands, road contests against Marquette, Tulsa and Texas A&M and a matchup against Vanderbilt at Sprint Center.
In the Paradise Jam, K-State will play Eastern Kentucky, the winner of Northern Iowa vs. Penn and potentially could meet former Big 12 rival Missouri in the title game.
Texas A&M, Missouri, Penn and Georgia State — a team the Wildcats will host on Dec. 15 — all earned NCAA Tournament bids in 2018, with A&M making it to the Sweet 16. Marquette advanced to the NIT quarterfinals.
“With such an experienced team coming back, we wanted to make sure we provided enough challenges to continue to build on what we have accomplished the last two seasons,” Weber said, calling the Paradise Jam field "really solid" and saying Vanderbilt "will have one of the top recruiting classes in the country."
K-State returns all of the players who were major contributors to last year's postseason run, including All-Big 12 forward Dean Wade and second-team All-Big 12 guard Barry Brown. Four other players who started — Xavier Sneed, Makol Mawien, Kamau Stokes and Cartier Diarra — also return.