As Jayhawk fans are glued to various blogs, message boards, and other news sources waiting for Lew to make his big hire, the basketball team (yes, KU has a basketball team) is rolling along steamrolling inferior programs at home. The Jayhawks have played a couple of good programs, Memphis (neutral) and on the road at UCLA. However, the majority of the teams we are seeing aren't giving us much of a glimpse as to how this team will handle the good teams in the Big 12 and NCAA tournament. Why is Coach Self filling the schedule with creampuffs? Lets compare the super weak schedule to that of North Carolina and Kentucky, two other teams who have a realistic goal of cutting down the nets as One Shining Moment is played by CBS.
For the comparison of this year's schedule, I took the first 15 games for the three teams. Looked up their opponents final ranking in 2009 according to KenPom. Results after the jump.
Kansas' opponents average KenPom ranking at the end of 2009 was 123. That number was lower than I expected, but it does include Memphis' number 2 finish and UCLA's number 12. Those two schools aren't likely to finish that high this year. Memphis (2) was obviously the highest ranked team followed by UCLA (12), Tennessee (31), Cal (32), Temple (47), and Michigan (50).
North Carolina has played a brutal schedule this year, right? The average KenPom 2009 ranking is 151. Much worse than expected. Carolina's schedule includes games with Michigan St (8), Syracuse (15), Texas (23), and Ohio State (37). Wait, they also played Kentucky who finished last year at 52. Kentucky appears to be looking at a much stronger finish this year.
Kentucky is the last school I looked at, how are they challenging Calipari and Wall? Average KenPom finish for their opponents in 2009 was 140. Once again, a worse average than expected. Kentucky's schedule has included UNC (1), UConn (3), and Stanford (49). Three schools in the top 50?
In the end, I guess KU's schedule hasn't been any weaker than schools in a similar situation. The Jayhawks haven't played the top flight schools this year, but they were scheduled. Memphis and UCLA looked like huge games when they were scheduled. Facing six teams that finished 2009 in the top 50 before even getting to conference play is impressive.
Notes: Used KenPom rankings because they're easy. Only looked at these three schools because it's December and I haven't done any Christmas shopping. Might come back and look at the top 10 or Big 12 in the future.
Update: Changed the graphs, I think these are a better representation of what I want them to show.