Kansas basketball hosts new-look North Carolina Central in opener

Top-ranked Kansas basketball will host North Carolina Central in a game honoring a pioneer. Can NCCU pull off the huge upset?

North Carolina Central is set to tip off the 2023-2024 season with a game at Kansas basketball, the no. 1 team in all of college basketball.

The game is being billed as The McLendon Classic as both schools have a connection to Basketball Hall of Famer John McLendon. McLendon learned the game of basketball from its inventor, James Naismith, while at Kansas University. He then took that knowledge to Durham, NC to turn North Carolina College (For Negroes) into a powerhouse in the Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association in the 1940s and 50s. 

NCCU head coach LeVelle Moton passed McLendon on the school’s all-time wins list last season, leading his team to a 18-12 record and second place in the MEAC last season. The vast majority of that team is no longer on the roster as NCCU has brought in 11 new players — only one of which is a freshman. Six of the 10 transfers came from the JUCO ranks, with four Division I transfers added.

Monday’s game will be one of three against Power Five completion for NCCU this season. It will play at Georgia in Athens, GA on Nov. 12 and at Virginia in Charlottesville on Dec. 9. 

Kansas basketball posted a 28-8 overall record in 2022-23 and won the Big 12 regular season title with a 13-5 league mark.  KJ Adams Jr., Dajuan Harris Jr. and Kevin McCullar Jr. are the three returning starters for KU.

Kansas is 8-0 all-time against MEACA basketball teams, its most recent being an NCAA Tournament win over MEAC champion Howard earlier this fall. KU is a 29 point favorite over North Carolina Central heading into Monday’s game, according to DraftKings. 

The game will tip off at 7PM CST and be televised on Big 12 NOW via ESPN+.

Kansas basketball hosts new-look North Carolina Central in opener
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