Monday, December 16, 2019

Kansas takes over No. 1 spot in AP Top 25 and coaches poll

Kansas guard Devon Dotson (1) gets inside for a bucket past UMKC guard Brandon McKissic (3) during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas guard Devon Dotson (1) gets inside for a bucket past UMKC guard Brandon McKissic (3) during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.


The Kansas men’s basketball team is the new No. 1 in college basketball.

KU replaces Louisville at the top of this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll, following the Cardinals loss to Texas Tech last Tuesday night.

Kansas also is ranked No. 1 in the USA Today coaches poll.

It marks the 70th time in AP poll history and 62nd time in coaches poll history that Kansas has been ranked at the top.

“We’ll welcome being ranked No. 1,” KU coach Bill Self said in a statement. “I don’t believe that any team out there is deserving, at this juncture, of separating themselves to earn that. But based on where we started and how we’ve played the last nine games, I do believe my guys deserve to be ranked high and the No. 1 ranking is something that will be rewarding today, in the short term, but not mean anything moving forward except a bigger bullseye on our back.”

The Jayhawks, who have won nine in a row since losing the season opener to Duke in New York City, received 47 of the 65 first-place votes.

They were followed in this week’s Top 5 by Gonzaga, Louisville, Duke and Ohio State.

Three Big 12 Conference schools also were ranked this week, with Baylor at No. 10 and Texas Tech (24) and West Virginia (25) jumping into this week’s poll.

In many ways, the timing is perfect for the Jayhawks to jump into the top spot.

“You don’t ever say the season’s just starting because we’ve had some good games up until this point,” Kansas coach Bill Self noted after last weekend’s rout of Kansas City at Sprint Center. “But the season’s just starting. (We’ve) got 18 league games and the three nonconference games against people that can obviously beat you. That’s 21 regular-season games in a row with no break.”

Two of those three nonconference games are in the next couple of weeks, with KU heading to Philadelphia to take on No. 18 Villanova (8-2) on Saturday and traveling to the West Coast the following weekend to take on Stanford on Dec. 29.

After that, it’ll be all Big 12 games — the conference opener is set for Jan. 4 vs. West Virginia at Allen Fieldhouse — with the exception of KU vs. Tennessee on Jan. 25 in the Big 12/SEC Challenge at Allen Fieldhouse.

According to the latest rankings and projections, all 21 of those games are against teams ranked in the Top 80. KenPom currently has the Jayhawks slated to lose just one of those — 70-69 at Baylor on Feb. 22 — while five others are projected to be one-possession games, including Saturday at Villanova, where KenPom has KU projected to win 74-73.

As unlikely as losing just one game the rest of the way might be, if it were to happen, KU almost certainly would remain in the top spot in the polls for the next couple of months, a feat that would be a dramatic departure from what we’ve seen so far this season, with four other teams already occupying the No. 1 spot and losing.

Kansas, which opened the season ranked No. 3 in the AP poll, becomes the fifth team to move into the No. 1 spot in the first seven weeks of the 2019-20 season, and only Duke, for two weeks, and Louisville, for two weeks, were able to stay there for more than a week.

Monday marked the first time the AP poll has had five different No. 1 teams before New Year’s Day. The record for different No. 1 teams in an entire season is seven, set in 1982-83.

Despite the move into the top spot, Self was not quite ready to call his team the best or even the most complete team in the country to date.

“We’re OK,” Self said. “But we’ll find (out) a lot more about ourselves starting Saturday.”

Saturday’s 11 a.m. showdown with the Wildcats in Philly will mark the fourth meeting between Kansas and Villanova since 2016 and is a rematch of last year’s 74-71 Kansas victory at Allen Fieldhouse.

Here’s a quick look at the rest of this week’s AP Top 25

1 – Kansas, 9-1, 1,607 (47)

2 – Gonzaga, 11-1, 1,552 (15)

3 – Louisville, 10-1, 1,412 (1)

4 – Duke, 9-1, 1,387 (2)

5 – Ohio State, 9-1, 1,334

6 – Kentucky, 8-1, 1,231

7 – Maryland, 10-1, 1,207

8 – Oregon, 8-2, 1,172

9 – Virginia, 8-1, 1,121

10 – Baylor, 8-1, 1,062

11 – Memphis, 9-1, 960

12 – Auburn, 9-0, 939

13 – Dayton, 8-1, 879

14 – Michigan, 8-3, 723

15 – Michigan State, 7-3, 656

16 – Arizona, 10-2, 631

17 – Butler, 10-1, 553

18 – Villanova, 8-2, 496

19 – Florida State, 8-2, 449

20 – San Diego State, 10-0, 431

21 – Tennessee, 7-2, 367

22 – Washington, 7-2, 213

23 – Penn State, 9-2, 182

24 – Texas Tech, 6-3, 115

25 – West Virginia, 76

Others receiving votes: North Carolina 41, Xavier 40, Wichita State 31, Purdue 30, Liberty 25, Marquette 23, Indiana 23, Virginia Commonwealth 21, Utah State 14, Saint Mary's 13, Northern Iowa 12, Colorado 12, Texas 10, Florida 7, DePaul 6, Georgetown 3, Richmond 3, Virginia Tech 3, LSU 3, Stanford 3, Seton Hall 3, Oklahoma State 2, Duquesne 1, BYU 1, Arkansas 1


Bryce Landon 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Let's hope we can handle having the bullseye on our back, especially since we have to go to Villanova this weekend.

Kit Duncan 10 months, 2 weeks ago

KU always has a bullseye on its back, no matter the rankings. Coach Self tells these kids to expect the opposing team's best, no matter the opposing team's record or where the game is being played. For many schools, playing Kansas (or Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, et al) is the same as playing for a National Championship.

Kansas players must learn to treat every opponent equally and not give them a reason for hope. Villanova is a ranked and worthy opponent who will play their hearts out to beat Kansas. KU players must be prepared to play every possession, give no quarter, and once in the lead, not let up, even for a moment.

RCJH Beat Villanova!

Jonathan Allison 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Bill, of course, is right. Being ranked #1 is a good reward for the guys, but the schedule will be brutal. And just because KU is favored to win 20 of the next 21 games doesn't mean that the probability is high of KU winning 20 of the next 21 games. In fact, the probability is undoubtedly very low for that to happen. KU has, as always, 9 conference road games to play. Each one will be a hostile environment and a potential court storming. Saying that KU is favored in 20 of 21 games scares me. The reason being is that it raises expectations to the casual fan. If you didn't know that KU is favored in all but one game, then you likely expect to lose at least a couple of games, likely three or four in my opinion. Once you know that KU is favored in all but one game then you start to question more about where those losses are going to come... You start to bump up the expectations, and you set yourself up for a letdown when the statistically probable losses do occur against teams that KU may be favored to beat (whether that be narrowly favored or hugely favored).

So, I am going to ignore the fact that KU may be favored in 20 of 21 games and try to maintain my expectations with the knowledge that KU will likely lose 3 or 4 games in conference play regardless of what happens at Nova.

Tony Bandle 10 months, 2 weeks ago

General Custer was favored in 20 out of 21 potential battles and look how that turned out.

Let's be realistic..if KU goes 11-2 in non-conference play and 15-3 in conference play plus, say, 2-1 in the Big 12 Tourney, that's 28 - 6 going into the NCAA and that's pretty damn good!!

Kit Duncan 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Last year Kansas held serve at home, but lost two more games than usual on the road, to the schools that ultimately tied for the Big XII Championship, TTU & KSU. KU lost at ISU, WVU, UT, KSU, TTU and OU. In the last ten years WVU, ISU, OU, OSU and KSU have had the most success at home against Kansas, but never four out of the five in the same year. Had KU been healthy enough to beat both TTU and KSU on the road, as well as at home, the conference championship would have remained in Lawrence.

Bill Self has been a master through the years at stealing a game or two on the road while managing to win every game at home. As a result, no Big XII school has even close to a 50/50 record vs KU. The closest through all of KU's history is Missouri, in which KU has a .639 all time winning record. Next closest is KSU, losing .676 % of the time to KU. Kansas' only losing records are to teams outside the conference, unfortunately to schools such as UK, UCLA, Duke and a few more.

Jeff Foster 10 months, 2 weeks ago

We have the worst timing to take the top spot. Road games at Nova then Stanford, WVU and ISU! I like this team, but I'll be shocked if we run that gauntlet, THEN, home v. Baylor, then back to the road at OU and TX. Yikes, these next few weeks are brutal, we'll really see what this team is made of. If we can get through January with a couple of losses, this team could be pretty special. Rock Chalk!

Pamela Shanks 10 months, 2 weeks ago

The crowd was VERY pro-KU the last time KU came to the Bay Area to play Stanford, so let's hope it is that way again. We already have our tickets for the Stanford game and are looking forward to seeing the Jayhawks in action! Rock Chalk!

William Dostert 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Has anyone noticed the bias on ESPN regarding KU. Every time I watch the halftime show they rant and rave about every team but KU. One of the studio hosts can not stop gushing about Ohio State. He didn’t even back off his comments at halftime during the Tech Mississippi game last night. They barely mentioned KU.

Dane Pratt 10 months, 2 weeks ago

The worst thing about being number 1 is when the opposing team crowd storms the court when you lose.

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