Top-50 Team Countdown: #1.Kansas Jayhawks

1.Kansas Jayhawks

Outlook

The Jayhawks broke the record for most consecutive conference titles last season by winning their 14th Big 12 title in a row, they then made it to the Final Four for the 15th time in program history. They notably did so with a team that was one of the worst Kansas teams in the Bill Self Kansas era, which just shows how good this Kansas program has been. While last years team wasn’t a great Kansas team, this one looks poised to be potentially the best one in program history. They return Udoka Azubuike, Marcus Garrett, Mitch Lightfoot, and Lagerald Vick, who has been through the grind before. The Jayhawks will get Charlie Moore, and both KJ and Dedric Lawson eligible this season after they had to sit out last season due to transfer rules. The Jayhawks also add two Five-Star guards in Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes, while adding Four-Star players David McCormack and Ochai Agbaji. This team has so much talent coming in and unlike most teams, they will have teams that have played big minutes for them in the past. The expectations for this team are not only to win another Big 12 title but it is to cut down the nets on the night of the National Championship and anything short of that could make this season an unsuccessful one by team expectations.

Backcourt

The Jayhawks add in two great freshmen guards in Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes, who should pair nicely with players like Lagerald Vick, Charlie Moore, and Marcus Garrett. Grimes is the teams most talented player, he is a long and athletic guard, who has great slashing ability and can score at a high rate around the rim. Dotson is expected to come in and be the teams starting point guard on day one, he is a really quick guard, with great handles and a decent jump shot, he might take time to settle in but his skill will get him minutes. Lagerald Vick is the teams best returning three-point shooter, while he can knock down threes, he is long and athletic and he has the ability to jump out of the gym. Marcus Garrett is probably the teams best defender, he should lock players down on defense, while he’ll try to provide more on offense. California transfer Charlie Moore will step in and play minutes at the point guard position, he is a slower guard with good vision and he is a good three-point shooter. KJ Lawson will is a decent shooter and a good defender, while his versatility allows him to play both the 3 and the 4. Ochai Agbaji is a red-shirt candidate, however, if he does play he will provide some athleticism and hustle off the bench. Overall this team is so deep in the backcourt that they could overwhelm teams, the only thing to take note of is who will play minutes in crunch time.

Frontcourt

The Jayhawks might have the best frontcourt in the country as they return Udoka Azubuike, who will pair nicely along with do-everything forward Dedric Lawson. Azubuike is a gigantic player, who can score on the interior against anyone, while he is a great shot-blocker on the defensive end. Dedric Lawson is the favorite to win Big 12 Player of the year, he was a stud a Memphis nearly averaging 20 and 10 before transferring to Kansas. He should put up similar numbers this year at Kansas, which could have him on track to win National Player of the year as well. He is an effortless worker on the glass, a silky smooth scorer, he can make shots from deep, and he is a great passer. Mitch Lightfoot played somewhat out of position last year at center, this year he’ll look to become a good stretch-4, who can play good defense and hit shots from deep. David McCormack is a powerful center, who should develop a nice interior game while being a good role player coming off the bench. Silvio De Sousa was expected to be on the active roster, however, due to the ongoing FBI Investigation, it looks like he’ll be taking a redshirt year, which doesn’t hurt the team really at all. With having two great Junior big men in Udoka Azubuike and Dedric Lawson, plus good players off the bench, Kansas looks poised to not only win a Big 12 title but make a run at a National Championship.

Schedule Overview

The Jayhawks have put together what quite possibly might be the most difficult non-conference schedules in the country which will give them plenty of opportunities face tests against tough opponents. The Jayhawks kick off the season on opening night with a game against Michigan State in the Champions Classic in Indianapolis. The Jayhawks will have a couple of buy games before they head to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn over Thanksgiving weekend where they will play Marquette and either Tennessee or Louisville. The Jayhawks will play Stanford and Wofford in Allen Fieldhouse in early December, before playing New Mexico State in the Sprint Center in Kansas City on December 8th. The Jayhawks will play a Villanova at home on December 15th, which is a rematch from last seasons Final Four. Kansas will also play at Arizona State on December 22nd, before finishing their main part of their non-conference play on December 29th against Eastern Michigan. The Jayhawks will also play at Kentucky in the SEC/ Big 12 Challenge on January 26th, which could be a matchup of the top two teams in College Basketball. The Jayhawks will begin Big 12 play on January 2nd at home against Oklahoma, while wrapping up Big 12 play with a home game against Baylor on March 9th. The Big 12 Tournament runs March 13th-16th, with the NCAA Tournament beginning on March 19th.

What to expect this season

The Jayhawks will have one of the best teams in the history of their program, which means that this team should have a really good regular season record, which should get them a one seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks will have a lot of non-conference tough matchups, however, I think they should still be able to lose one or fewer games in non-conference play. The Big 12 is always tough and always filled with a lot of tough road tests, especially since everyone tries to play their best game against Kansas but they shouldn’t end Big 12 play with a record worse than 16-2. Expect the Jayhawks to win the Big 12 Tournament this season, which could help put them over the top as the number one overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. In the NCAA Tournament, they should be able to coast to the Final Four, especially since they will likely play their second-weekend games in Kansas City. The expectation for this team is to win a National Championship, as they have a roster that is absolutely stacked with so many great players.

Projected Roster

PG: Devon Dotson

SG: Quentin Grimes

SF: Lagerald Vick

PF: Dedric Lawson

C: Udoka Azubuike

Key Reserves: Charlie Moore, Marcus Garrett, Ochai Agbaji, KJ Lawson, Mitch Lightfoot, David McCormack

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