Jayhawks higher than expected in early look at 2019-2020 Top 25 rankings
Virginia’s thrilling, overtime victory over Texas Tech in Monday night’s national championship game officially brought the curtain down on another season of college basketball.
I’m not sure we’ll ever get tired of telling the stories of the remarkable journey from first 1 seed to lose to a 16 one year and national champion the next, nor will we ever fully be able to comprehend exactly how the Cavaliers did it.
Facing win probabilities of 9 percent with 16 seconds to play in the Elite Eight against Purdue, 4 percent with 17 seconds left against Auburn in the Final Four and 11.7 percent with 22 seconds to play in the title game on Monday night, UVA somehow won all three games and claimed a remarkable national title.
The odds of winning all three of those backs-to-the-wall battles in consecutive rounds are an astonishing 1 in 2,500. And the Cavs did it. Hats off to them and the Red Raiders, who made a heck of a run and showed the college basketball world that there’s more in the Big 12 than just Kansas.
Having said that, with the world quickly shifting to the first glimpses of the 2019-20 season, it’s worth noting that Las Vegas odds have KU and Texas Tech as the two Big 12 teams with the best odds of winning the 2020 national title.
Neither are particularly good, either. KU and Tech are both listed as 30-1 favorites to win it all next season, with Texas, at 40-1 and Iowa State at 60-1 just behind them.
The six other Big 12 programs all have odds of 100-1 or worse, including 2019 co-champ K-State, which checks in at 500-1.
Rosters will change, time will pass and those numbers — along with all of the rest — will go up and down, down and back up in the next 11 months. And nothing will really matter until next March.
But in true end-of-season tradition, it’s time to take a quick look around the college basketball landscape to see where several national media outlets have the 2019-20 Jayhawks ranked entering the offseason.
I’ll be honest. When I started looking at these late Monday night, I was expecting Kansas to check in somewhere in the 17-23 range on most rankings. The fact that the Jayhawks were listed higher than that in all eight polls was somewhat surprising considering the roster is not anywhere close to set or complete.
The average KU ranking in the eight polls shown below is No. 11, with a high of No. 8 and a low of No. 14.
That early praise clearly speaks to the talent of the players expected to return and the faith that so many have in Bill Self and his coaching staff to not only put the right pieces together but also to coach them up once they’re on campus and in uniform.
Plenty of time to sort all of that out in the days, weeks and months ahead.
For now, here’s a quick glance at a few of those way-too-early Top 25 lists for the 2019-20 season, including KU's first-glance ranking and an explanation from each site about why they put the Jayhawks where they did.
KU’s ranking: No. 13
Why this high: "For the first time in 15 seasons, Bill Self is not coaching the defending Big 12 regular-season champions. Can the Jayhawks start a new streak next season? There are a lot of questions to be answered in Lawrence. Lagerald Vickis gone, Charlie Moore is gone, Dedric Lawson is likely gone, KJ Lawson is likely gone. What will Quentin Grimes and Udoka Azubuike decide to do? If both Grimes and Azubuike return, they will join high-level point guard Devon Dotson and part-time starters Ochai Agbaji, Marcus Garrett and David McCormack."
KU’s ranking: No. 12
Why this high: "It’s hard imagine coach Bill Self is done roster-building with no signed impact recruits and so many players elsewhere lined up to transfer schools."
KU’s ranking: No. 8
Why this high: "There are plenty of question marks here regarding whether Quentin Grimes, Udoka Azubuike and even Silvio De Sousa (pending an appeal) return. However, Devon Dotson, Ochai Agbaji, Marcus Garrett, Mitch Lightfoot and David McCormack are all back."
KU's ranking: No. 14
Why this high: "To say this program is swirling in uncertainty is a vast understatement. Lawson and Grimes both have eligibility left, but from what I am hearing both are intent on entering the NBA Draft and staying there. Azubuike most likely will at least to test the waters. If he returns he will give the Jayhawks a badly needed anchor in the middle. Bill Self has yet to land a significant recruit, but KU is in the mix for several of the nation’s top unsigned prospects, most notably Matthew Hurt and Precious Achjiuwa. It is not clear just how much the program’s recruiting efforts are being impaired by the ongoing imbroglio with the NCAA stemming from the FBI’s investigation into college basketball, but it’s certainly not helping."
KU’s ranking: No. 11
Why this high: Although there’s no real blurb written, it’s worth noting here that Gary Parrish is taking into account the fact that he expects both Udoka Azubuike and Quentin Grimes to return to Kansas next season. I don’t see it — at all — but if they’re both back it’s easy to see how KU could have a Top 10-type team.
KU’s ranking: No. 12
Why this high: "Both Lawson brothers are out the door and Kansas’s season was weird as it was, but it's also getting a decent amount back. Udoka Azubuike, Devon Dotson, Ochai Agbaji and Marcus Garrett should be back, and Quentin Grimes should probably stay. Although the Jayhawks' recruiting class looks underwhelming, this group should be expected to build on what was an uneven year overall. They may need a grad transfer or two to fill out the rotation."
KU’s ranking: No. 9
Why this high: No blurb given in this video breakdown of the Top 25, but there’s little doubt that Yahoo putting KU in its Top 10 is an indicator that they, too, are expecting the bulk of KU’s rotation — outside of Dedric Lawson — to return next season.
KU's ranking: No. 9
Why this high: "First-team All-American Dedric Lawson intends to keep his name in the NBA draft and that leaves coach Bill Self with a roster of youngsters that never fully developed this season.. Where it gets interesting is if 6-11 big man Udoka Azubuikecomes back for his senior campaign. That'd give Kansas a much-needed size. Quentin Grimes should break out as a sophomore."