I know it's really cool to talk about football, but summer basketball rankings are coming out from the "experts," and I just wanted to go over what these sages are saying about college basketball and Kansas, in particular. I've only seen the three so far on ESPN, and in a brief glance at CBS's website, I couldn't find anything recent. The bottom line here is that Forde is probably a little over-confident, Katz is a little under-confident and Dick Vitale is an idiot...My wife tells me not to get riled up about these things, that the games will be played and that KU basketball, win or lose, will end up entertaining me for five months. While she's right, her next question is always, "Where'd they rank Carolina?" So even to people who don't care, these things matter because they set expectations.
On to Dicky V. http://es.pn/9BZu4z His top team is Duke, which is hard to argue with. He moves on to Michigan State, Purdue, Ohio State and Villanova rounding out the top five. Number 6? Number 6 is...Kentucky. Yes, Kentucky. No, that's not a typo. And here's what he says:
John Calipari won't rebuild; he will simply reload. Brandon Knight is the latest diaper dandy to have an immediate impact on a Calipari-led program.
Ok, well, that makes no sense. But Kansas has to be in the top 10, right?
9. K-State: The return of Jacob Pullen will keep Frank Martin very happy. The Wildcats will be the team to beat in the Big 12.
10: North Carolina: Roy Williams and the Tar Heels will bounce back from last season's roller-coaster ride. Remember the name Harrison Barnes. He may be the premier freshman in America.
11. Baylor: LaceDarius Dunn decided to return to school instead of entering the NBA draft, which keeps Scott Drew's team in the national spotlight.
17. Texas: Rick Barnes will rebuild quickly thanks to another solid recruiting class. This one is led by guard Cory Joseph and forward Tristan Thompson.
Whew, here we are...
20. Kansas: Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins are gone, but the Morris twins return and Bill Self welcomes Josh Selby, a newcomer with lots of potential. Selby is currently hurt but should be ready for the season.
So Knight is "the latest diaper dandy to have an immediate impact on a Calipari-led program," but Selby, the #1 player in the class is just "a newcomer with lots of potential." And Kansas should finish 4th in the Big XII. Oh, and a team that basically gave up and couldn't win the NIT is #10.
Next up is Katz. http://es.pn/8ZteuC Duke is #1, Purdue #2, Michigan State #3, Baylor #4 and K-State #5. Wait, what? Baylor and K-State in the Top 5? Other highlights include North Carolina at #11 and Kentucky at #13. Granted, he does include caveats for both teams, saying of Kentucky, "This could be a reach."
Oooh, Mizzouri at #14???
And Kansas lands at #16. Katz also includes a caveat here. "The Jayhawks actually might be a bit too low here if they develop the way they should throughout the season."
So Kansas is again slotted at 4th in the Big XII. But this time behind Missouri instead of Texas.
Last but not least is Pat Forde. http://es.pn/bzy89C He mixes things up with Purdue at #1, followed by Duke and Michigan State. Kansas is slotted at #5, and the first Big XII team on the board.
The Big 12 should once again be very good at the top next season. And even after losing three of its top four scorers, Kansas might be the best of the bunch. The Jayhawks return five key players from a 33-victory team that dominated the league, plus have some returning talent that couldn't break into the rotation last season. And then there's the addition of freshman stud Josh Selby to the mix.
K-State land just behind us at #6. Now, I'm not the fan that believes we should be #1 every single year regardless of the circumstances. But given what this team actually has, what the team has clearly been doing over the summer, I think being slotted in the #9-11 range is reasonable. Baylor and K-State will be good. I'm not as confident in K-State, though. Losing Clemente will hurt that team more than people think. Love him or hate him, he was a leader, far more so than Pullen.
But Katz and Vitale leave me shaking my head. Kentucky lost more than KU did, they might have gained more, too, but the remnants of last year's Kentucky team plus this recruiting class doesn't add up to KU's remaining team plus Selby (and Woolridge).