OU has tough nonconference slate

Oklahoma’s nonconference basketball schedule includes as many as six teams who made the NCAA Tournament last season, including a home date with Wisconsin.

Coach Lon Kruger and Vice President and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione announced the Sooners’ 14-game 2015-16 nonconference schedule, a slate that features eight home dates (two of them exhibitions), including two games that will pit OU against 2015 NCAA No. 1 seeds.

“Without a doubt this is one of the most ambitious nonconference schedules we have ever put together,” said Kruger, who is starting his fifth season at OU and has taken the Sooners to the NCAA Tournament each of the last three years. “But given the experienced makeup of our team, we feel it is appropriate. Our guys are looking forward to the many challenges in nonconference play and have been working hard since the end of last season to give us the best chance of being successful throughout the coming year. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Atop the schedule is a season-opening game at Memphis, plus home games against Creighton and 2014 and ‘15 Final Four participant Wisconsin; a contest against Big East champion Villanova in Hawaii; a Christmas week trip to Hawaii for the eight-team Diamond Head Classic and a road game against LSU as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

OU’s 16 nonconference opponents and potential opponents (not including exhibition foes) combined for a 320-209 record last year.

The Sooners open with a pair of home exhibition games against NCAA Division II member Washburn (16-16 last year) on Nov. 6 and NAIA member Mid-America Christian (25-11) on Nov. 12. Mid-America Christian, which finished No. 10 in the final NAIA coaches poll, is coached by Josh Gamblin, who served as an OU graduate assistant manager last season.

The Sooners begin the regular season at Memphis (18-14) on Nov. 17 before opening a four-game homestand. OU will host McNeese State (15-16) on Nov. 20, Incarnate Word (18-11) on Nov. 24, Wisconsin (36-4; NCAA championship game) on Nov. 29 and Central Arkansas (2-27) on Dec. 3. Wisconsin will mark just the third OU nonconference opponent to play in Norman the year after reaching the NCAA title game (Duke played at Lloyd Noble Center in 1990-91 and Connecticut did in 2004-05).

OU will travel to Pearl Harbor in Hawai’i for a Dec. 7 game against Villanova (33-3; NCAA round of 32) on the 74th anniversary of the sudden attack of United States military installations that catapulted the United States into World War II. The game will be played inside Bloch Arena on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam near Honolulu. Villanova returns Co-Big East Player of the Year Ryan Arcidiacono.

The Sooners return to Lloyd Noble Center for home games on Dec. 12 against Oral Roberts (19-15) and Creighton (14-19) before heading back to Hawai’i for three games (Dec. 22, 23 and 25) in the Diamond Head Classic. The field also includes Auburn (15-20), BYU (25-10; NCAA First Four), Harvard (22-8; NCAA round of 64), Hawai’i (22-13), New Mexico (15-16), Northern Iowa (31-4; NCAA round of 32) and Washington State (13-18).

The Sooners close nonconference play on Jan. 30 at LSU (22-11; NCAA round of 64) in a game that is part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. OU is 2-0 in the event. The game against the Tigers will mark the Sooners’ first trip to Baton Rouge.

OU’s 2016 Big 12 Conference schedule is expected to be announced in late July.

OU Nonconference Schedule

November 6 – Washburn (Exhibition)

November 12 – Mid-America Christian (Exhibition)

November 17 at Memphis

November 20 – McNeese State

November 24 – Incarnate Word

December 3 – Central Arkansas

December 7 – Villanova (at Hawaii)

December 12 – ORU

December 19 – Creighton

December 22-25 – Honolulu – Diamond Head Classic (field also includes Auburn, BYU, Harvard, Hawai’i, New Mexico, Northern Iowa, Washington State)

January 30 at LSU