OU Men’s Basketball Reveals a Tough Non-Conference Slate for 2015-16


Strength of schedule will not be an issue for the OU men’s basketball team in 2015. The non-conference slate of games next season will pose a true test for the Sooners, who are expected to be one of the conference contenders in 2015-16.

With four starters returning from this past season’s Big 12 second-place squad, the Sooners are expected to be in a prime position to challenge 11-time defending champion Kansas for the conference championship.

Based on the OU nonconference schedule for next season, which was released on Thursday, coach Lon Kruger’s crew should be well tested before it even gets to the conference season.

The 16-game non-conference portion of the schedule will include six home games as well as two trips to Hawaii. The Sooners will face two teams that were No. 1 seeds in last season’s NCAA Tournament, and will open the 2015-16 regular season at Memphis on Nov. 17.

The Sooners will make their first trip to Hawaii in early December, when they will take on Big East champion Villanova, 33-3 a year ago, on Dec. 7 in Honolulu on the 74th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that triggered the war on Japan as part of World War II.

Villanova is expected to have another strong team next season, led by Co-Big East Player of the Year Ryan Arcidiacono.

OU will get a stout tune up for its non-conference contest against Villanova when it entertains NCAA Final Four runner-up Wisconsin out of the Big Ten  the week before at Lloyd Noble Center on Nov. 29.

Mar 27, 2015; Syracuse, NY, USA; Oklahoma Sooners guard Buddy Hield (24) passes the ball during the first half against the Michigan State Spartans in the semifinals of the east regional of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

One of the Sooners six non-conference home dates will be against Creighton on Dec. 19. The Blue Jays beat OU last season in Omaha. The following week, the team will be off to Hawaii for a second time in less than a month to participate over the Christmas holidays in the Diamond Head Classic. The tournament field will include three teams that appeared in the NCAA Tournament last season (BYU, Harvard and Northern Iowa) along with Auburn, New Mexico and Hawaii.

At the end of January, the Sooners will travel to LSU, another NCAA team from a year ago, as part of the Big 12-SEC Basketball Challenge.

OU’s 16 nonconference opponents for the 2015-16 season produced a combined record last season.

Kruger recognizes that the non-conference schedule for next season is a difficult one,  but he feels his team has the experience and the talent to compete with some of the best teams in the country and will benefit in doing so.

"“Without a doubt, this is one of the most ambitious non-conference schedules we have ever put together,” said the Sooner head coach, who will enter his fifth season at Oklahoma in 2015-16. “But given the experienced makeup of out team, we feel it is appropriate.”"

The Big 12 men’s basketball schedule will not be available until the end of July.