Big 12 Schedule Release Graphic for Website 2Big 12 Schedule Release Graphic for Website 2

Men's Hoops Announces Inaugural Big 12 Conference Schedule

by Ken Landis
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ORLANDO – The Big 12 Conference has announced UCF men’s basketball’s inaugural schedule as members of the league. The slate is headlined by the Knights’ conference opener at Kansas State and a home opening contest against Kansas inside Addition Financial Arena.

"We’re looking forward to playing a great schedule against the top teams in the nation on a nightly basis,” said head coach Johnny Dawkins. “It will only continue to enhance our brand here at UCF and give us the opportunity to position ourselves to do some amazing things in the Big 12. Having an opportunity to play two previous national champions on our home court is something that will be great for the city of Orlando as well as our fan base.”

UCF’s conference slate consists of 18 league games, playing four teams exclusively at home, four on the road and five both home and away. The Knights will welcome two of the three most recent national champions to Orlando (Baylor 2021, Kansas 2022) as well as four teams that made the NCAA Tournament last season. Former American Athletic Conference rivalries with Cincinnati and Houston will be reignited in the Big 12 Conference with home-and-home meetings, as well as two meetings with fellow newcomer BYU.

Seventy percent of Big 12 programs have advanced to a Sweet 16 within the last five seasons (2018-23) that postseason play was conducted, and that same percentage made the NCAA Tournament last season, a mark that proved more than any other conference. Kansas State and Texas represented the Big 12 in last year’s Elite Eight, continuing the league’s streak of having at least one team reach the regional final over the last seven tournaments. The conference has 14 regional semifinal appearances since 2017, which is third nationally, and boasts a total of 51 all-time.

The Knights will be featured in two nationally televised games either on ESPN2 or ESPNU. Their contest against Texas will be broadcast on the Longhorn Network, while all other conference games will be broadcast on the Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

The Black and Gold begin their new era as members of the Big 12 by visiting Kansas State on Jan. 6. The Wildcats are one of the seven conference members the Knights have met previously. Kansas State had a successful season under Jerome Tang’s first year at the helm, going 26-10 and reaching the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight. UCF’s debut game will be broadcast on either ESPN2 or ESPNU, with the tipoff time still to be announced.

The Knights open their home Big 12 Conference slate by hosting the 2022 National Champions, Kansas, on Wednesday, Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. The Jayhawks have made an NCAA-leading 33 straight postseason tournaments, reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament and finishing 28-8 last season. UCF will face both programs in the state of Kansas just once in 2023-24.

The Black and Gold welcome BYU to Addition Financial Arena on Jan. 13 to wrap up UCF’s first homestand as a member of its new conference. The Cougars finished 19-15 last season and saw their campaign come to a close in the West Coast Conference semifinals. The Black and Gold will take a trip to Provo a month later, visiting BYU on Feb. 13.

UCF will embark on a two-game swing through the state of Texas, stopping in Austin to face the Longhorns on Jan. 17 and then Houston to match up with the Cougars on Jan. 20. Texas made a run to the NCAA Elite Eight under first year head coach Rodney Terry, finishing the year 29-9, including a 12-6 mark in conference. Houston finished the year with the No. 1 ranking in the NCAA NET rankings and ESPN BPI. The Cougars won 33 games in 2022-23 and saw their season end in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. The Black and Gold see Houston return to Orlando on Mar. 6 to close out the 2023-24 home schedule.

The Knights are slated for a home-and-home with West Virginia, hosting the Mountaineers on Jan. 23 and visiting Morgantown on Feb. 20. West Virginia will be under the direction of new head coach Josh Eilert this season after a 19-15 finish in 2022-23. The road clash with West Virginia will be televised on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.

UCF will reunite with former American Athletic Conference foe Cincinnati, heading north to face the Bearcats on Jan. 27 and hosting them three weeks later on Feb. 17. Wes Miller’s squad reached the NIT Quarterfinals last season and finished the year 23-13.

The Knights host their second recent national champion on Jan. 31 as they welcome Baylor to The City Beautiful. The Bears hoisted their title in 2021, beating Gonzaga by 16 in the championship game and finishing that campaign with a 28-2 record. This past season, the Bears reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament and will be opening a new arena in the spring of 2024.

UCF will host Oklahoma on Feb. 3, looking for a victory against the Sooners before their departure from the Big 12 next season. The two sides met for a pair of thrilling non-conference contests in recent seasons, with Oklahoma narrowly edging the Knights by a combined four points across both battles in 2019 and 2021.

Texas Tech will face the Black and Gold in a span of two weeks, with the first meeting set for Feb. 10 in Lubbock, followed by a return game in Orlando on Feb. 24. The Red Raiders finished 16-16 last season but are under the new direction of Grant McCasland, who led North Texas to a 31-7 record and an NIT championship in 2022-23.

UCF links back up with Oklahoma State for a second consecutive season on Feb. 28 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. after last year’s overtime thriller in the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship semifinal. The Knights erased a 17-point first-half deficit to force the extra session in which they prevailed 60-56. The win over the Cowboys was the first victory over a Big 12 foe in program history. Oklahoma State went on to finish the year with a 20-16 mark and a trip to the NIT quarterfinals.

Iowa State makes its first trek to Orlando on Mar. 2. The Cyclones punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament but were bounced in the first round last season, finishing the campaign 19-14.

The Knights conclude the 2023-24 regular-season slate with a trip to Fort Worth to face TCU on Mar. 9. The Horned Frogs’ only meeting with the Knights was in Madison Square Garden in the 2017 NIT semifinals, a contest that went the way of TCU, eventually leading them to the tournament title. This past season, the Horned Frogs finished 22-13 with an appearance in the NCAA Tournament Second Round.

The 2024 Big 12 Conference Championship returns to Kansas City, Missouri at the T-Mobile Center. The men’s championship is slated for March 12-16.

Opponents for this year’s Big 12 Conference schedule were selected based on a combination of geography, historical results and a poll of the coaches to best balance the schedule in terms of travel and competitive balance.

UCF’s meetings with Kansas, BYU, Texas, Baylor, Texas Tech and Iowa State will all be the first in program history.

Season tickets for UCF men’s basketball’s inaugural season in the Big 12 Conference are selling fast, as a record number have already been sold! Be part of the action by purchasing your season tickets here.