While some of Utah men's basketball's non-conference opponents last season left some fans asking "Where's the beef?" the Runnin' Utes schedule next year is already looking much tougher with a new opponent that was revealed Friday.
Utah will host Wichita State on Dec. 3 this winter as part of a home-and-home agreement, a source close to the deal confirmed to the Tribune. The Shockers, who earned a No. 1 seed this past season while winning an NCAA-record 35 straight games to start the year, will visit the Huntsman Center this year. The Utes will go to Wichita in the 2015-16 season. The game may be played at Intrust Bank Arena in downtown Wichita, where Wichita State sometimes plays major conference opponents.
With the addition of the Shockers to the slate, Utah's schedule this fall is already quite formidable, even with plenty of holes to be filled in. The Utes also have a Dec. 13 date with Kansas this fall at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo. Utah and BYU will continue their rivalry series in Provo next year as well.
Just with those three games, the Utes have two opponents (Wichita State and Kansas) next season who finished in the top 14 in the postseason USA Today Coaches' Poll. All three opponents were NCAA Tournament teams last season.
Last season, the Utes' toughest non-conference opponent was BYU, which was the only tournament team out of its slate. Utah also played Boise State and Fresno State, Mountain West teams that didn't make the NCAA cut. CBS Sports ranked the Utes' non-conference strength of schedule as No. 341 in the nation.
Matt Piper and Kyle Goon
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