2020 Kansas Championship Odds: Returning Players Have Jayhawks Aimed at Title
For most teams, the season the Kansas Jayhawks last year would have been deemed successful. They went 26-10, and they won a tournament game. Not too bad. But they also finished third in the Big 12, and for a Kansas team that's not just unexpected - it hasn't seemed possible for so long now. After all, they had won the league 14 straight years before last season. It's a bounce back year in a sense, then, and they are certainly loaded to do so. Expectations are very high - they are ranked third, they had the second most first-place votes in the AP poll, and their regular season win total is a national-high 29. In other words, after the smallest of steps back last year, people again expect Kansas to be Kansas.
Kansas Jayhawks Additions/Losses
It was a bit of an odd team last year for Kansas. They lost four key contributors after the season, with brothers Dedric and K.J. Lawson being the most impactful and notable. But Kansas didn't have a player drafted last year. So, while they lose good veterans, they don't have to deal with any crushing losses. Addition by subtraction is a real possibility here.
On the other hand, the incoming class is not as blue chip as some might expect. The group of incoming freshmen was ranked just 15th nationally, and the top-ranked player in the class - forward Jalen Wilson - ranks only 53rd nationally. Wilson has real NBA potential, but he is far from a lock. He was long committed to Michigan. However, when John Beilein left for the NBA, he flipped. And beyond that, the class registers more as intriguing than mind-blowing. Wing Tristan Enaruna is a Dutch player who played a year of prep school in Utah last year. Dajuan Harris was committed to Missouri State of all places before flipping to Kansas, and he's already locked in to redshirt. Christian Braun almost lives close enough to campus to walk from home and is a bit of a project.
The team landed one transfer who will be useful as a role player. Senior guard Isaiah Moss averaged 8.9 points for Iowa last year and is a shooter. You can never have too many of those.
So, with some key departures, and a recruiting class that is only okay, why the excitement around the team? It's for all the moves that didn't happen this summer. Udoka Azubuike stunned many by announcing that he would return for his senior year. He's the strong favorite to win conference player of the year honors. Point guard Devon Dotson declared for the draft but then pulled out and came back for more. And the NCAA announced that Silvio De Sousa, who had been suspended, is again eligible. The returning experience on this squad is impressive.
Kansas Jayhawks Schedule
The Jayhawks opening their season against Duke at Madison Square Garden is everything that is good about college basketball. It should be a very interesting game, and the experience of Kansas should be a big factor in the game. Their early-season tournament in the Maui Invitational, and it sets up for a potential championship clash with Michigan State. For those keeping track at home, that would be the first- and fourth-ranked team in the first month of the season. At least we'll know where the team stands. They also play Villanova and Stanford before heading into conference play, and host Tennessee in the Big 12-SEC Challenge at the end of January. Add in the balanced Big 12 schedule, and you have a schedule with more than enough chances for this team to prove themselves, but also with enough easier games that the intensity doesn't have to be all out from start to finish.
Kansas Jayhawks Futures Odds and Trends
The oddsmakers are ever so slightly less impressed than the poll voters when it comes to Kansas. They are ranked third overall and are one of only three teams that received first-place votes. In futures odds, though, they sit in a three-way tie for fourth at +1400, far behind co-favorites Michigan State and Kentucky at +800, and also trailing Duke at +1000. As we have long come to expect, they are solidly favored to win the Big 12 title at +275, with Texas Tech back in second at +450. Their season win total is set at 29, tied with Kentucky and Michigan State for the highest number on the board.
Last year the team was a disappointing 17-19 ATS, dragged down in part by a five-game stretch in January in which they did not cover a spread. They were a bleak 2-9 ATS in true road games, yet 6-3 ATS on a neutral court. Betting on totals was a better proposition, as they went over 22 times and under just 13.
Kansas Jayhawks Predictions
I get why people like this team. But I am not sure I like them quite as much. Getting back the veteran talent is big, but the depth is a bit of a concern. And outside of Wilson and Moss, they didn't add a lot that jumps off the page. They are certainly going to contend for the Big 12 title again, and I expect them to win it. But I will need them to prove to me that they are truly deserving of a top three ranking. I don't really like them against Duke, and really don't like them against Michigan State.
Get all of this Weeks College Basketball Picks
Get all of this Weeks guaranteed Expert College Basketball Picks