KC’s Next Play: KU breaks in new arena, Chiefs’ return and final prep football games

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The Kansas Jayhawks will help christen a new venue Friday night when they play St. John’s in the first basketball game at the recently completed UBS Arena in Elmont, N.Y.

The week ahead also bring the return of the Kansas City Chiefs, bowl bids for Mizzou and K-State, a potential work stoppage in Major League Baseball and the final high school football games of the 2021 season.

Kansas head coach Bill Self claps after a basket during the second half of a game against Tarleton State, Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, in Lawrence, Kan.
Kansas head coach Bill Self claps after a basket during the second half of a game against Tarleton State, Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, in Lawrence, Kan.

A big Big East-Big 12 Battle

After playing the Iona Gaels Saturday in Florida, the Jayhawks will next be on the road in New York, where they’ll play St. John’s Friday night in a newly constructed arena at Belmont Park on Long Island.

The state-of-the-art facility is the future home of the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League.

The opposing coach, former Mizzou coach Mike Anderson, is no stranger to KU coach Bill Self’s program. This week’s game will be the 14th all-time between KU and the Johnnies, with the Jayhawks 8-5 in 13 past meetings. The most recent game between the two schools was in 2000 at Madison Square Garden during the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) gets off a pass in the second-half against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Kansas City. The Chiefs defeated the Broncos, 22-16.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) gets off a pass in the second-half against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Kansas City. The Chiefs defeated the Broncos, 22-16.

Return of the rested Chiefs

The Chiefs are back in action next Sunday after taking some time off around Thanksgiving.

It wasn’t some kind of special vacation for the Chiefs because of the holiday, but rather their scheduled NFL off-week — commonly referred to as a bye week. And we all know how good Chiefs coach Andy Reid has typically been after bye weeks. He is 20-3 in his career after these open dates in the schedule.

The Chiefs went a perfect 4-0 in November after starting the season a dismal 3-4, so things are definitely looking up at 1 Arrowhead Drive.

Missouri’s Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium
Missouri’s Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium

Final prep football finals

Most of the Missouri high school football championships — the annual Show Me Bowl games — will be contested Saturday at Mizzou’s Faurot Field.

The Class 2, Class 4 and Class 5 state finals are Friday. The Class 1 and Class 3 finals are Saturday. (And the 8-Man state championship game will be played even sooner, on Thursday.) The Class 6 championship game took place this weekend in Columbia, with Liberty North facing Christian Brothers College of St. Louis.

Kansas State wide receiver Malik Knowles, right, celebrates with running back Deuce Vaughn after scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA football basketball game against Kansas Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Lawrence, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Kansas State wide receiver Malik Knowles, right, celebrates with running back Deuce Vaughn after scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA football basketball game against Kansas Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Lawrence, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Awaiting bowl bids

The Missouri and Kansas State football teams crossed the six-win threshold this season and now await invitations to bowls.

This year, college football’s annual “selection weekend” is next Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 4-5.

Bowl Season 2021 kicks off Dec. 17 with the Bahamas Bowl in Nassau and Cure Bowl in Orlando. The grand finale, college football’s national championship game, is slated for Jan. 8 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Kansas City Royals’ Nicky Lopez, left, congratulates Salvador Perez (13), who had hit a home run to tie the score during the sixth inning against the New York Yankees in a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
Kansas City Royals’ Nicky Lopez, left, congratulates Salvador Perez (13), who had hit a home run to tie the score during the sixth inning against the New York Yankees in a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

A baseball lockout?

This would be news no baseball fan wants to hear: There’s a real possibility that Major League Baseball will see its first work stoppage since 1994 when the current collective-bargaining agreement between its owners and players expires at 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday.

The expectation entering this weekend was that the owners of the 30 MLB clubs would immediately lock out the players upon the expiration of the current CBA. At this point, only 11th-hour negotiations between the owners and the MLB Players Union could avert a labor halt ahead of spring training’s scheduled start in mid-February.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that something amenable to both sides can be worked out before things get ugly in public.

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