With 11 consecutive conference championships, there is no question that the Kansas Jayhawks are the class of the Big 12. With seemingly everything in place for KU to take home an unprecedented 12th straight title, it would certainly be a big surprise if another team dethrones the Jayhawks. Kansas enters the season as the unanimous favorite to win the conference among Big 12 coaches. With a top five recruiting class nationally, the Jayhawks were ranked 5th in the USA Today Coaches Poll. As if that wasn't enough, the Jayhawks traveled to Gwanju, Korea to represent the United States in the World University Games earlier this summer. The Jayhawks mowed down their international competition and took home a gold medal in the event. The Frogs played Kansas close three times last season, but this looks to be a much more talented KU team.
Game 17 & 23: Kansas Jayhawks
Date: Saturday, January 16
Time: 1:00 PM
Location: Allen Fieldhouse - Lawrence, KS
Date: Saturday, February 6
Time: 11:00 AM
Location: Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena - Fort Worth, TX
Know the Foe
SB Nation: Rock Chalk Talk
Big 12 Preseason Ranking: 1st
Location: Lawrence, KS
Head Coach: Bill Self
2014-2015 Record: 27-9 (13-5, 1st)
Postseason: NCAA Third Round
Key Losses: F Kelly Oubre, F Cliff Alexander
Key Returners: F Perry Ellis, G Frank Mason, G Wayne Selden
New Additions: F Cheick Diallo, F Carlton Bragg, G Lagerald Vick
Unfortunately for the rest of the Big 12, Kansas returns nearly every player from their 27-9 team from a year ago. Although Kelly Oubre and Cliff Alexander are off to the NBA, 11 different Jayhawks return, including the team's top three scorers from last season. Perry Ellis, who averaged 13.8 points and 6.9 boards per game last year, returns for his senior season and will likely be one of the big leaders of this KU team. Alongside Ellis is Frank Mason, who contributed 12.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game last year. Wayne Selden is the other top returner, having scored just under 10 points per game last year. In total, Kansas returns almost 80% of their scoring output.
Entering his 13th season at the helm, Bill Self has brought in another ridiculously talented recruiting class. The biggest storyline in the offseason for Kansas involves the saga of forward Cheick Diallo. A native of Mail, Africa, Diallo is a five-star recruit listed as the 7th best player in the country by ESPN. He participated in both the McDonald's All-American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic, two of the premier events for high school seniors. Diallo was named the MVP of the McDonald's All-American Game after dropping 18 points and grabbing eight rebounds. During his senior season at Our Savior New American High School in New York, Diallo averaged 17.6 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game. However, it is Our Savior New American that has Diallo in some hot water with the NCAA. After concerns about the school's legitimacy, the NCAA has launched an investigation into the private academy, ruling each of the school's graduates ineligible until the investigation is complete. While Diallo's status remains in limbo, Bill Self expects his prized recruit to be cleared to play once the season begins.
Regardless of the outcome of the Diallo case, Kansas will be in pretty good hands for years to come with four-star recruits Carlton Bragg and Lagerald Vick. Bragg is the 21st ranked player in the country, out of Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School in Cleveland. There, he averaged 21.3 points while grabbing 8.0 rebounds per game. Vick comes to Kansas as the 51st best player in this year's recruiting class. At Douglass High School in Memphis, Tennessee, Vick was a scoring machine, knocking in 27 points per game, while also grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out five assists. The best recruiting class in the Big 12, combined with a wealth of returning talent, means that Kansas is looking to not only defend their conference title, but also make a serious run at their first National Championship since 2008.
Last Time Around
01/28/15: Kansas 64 at TCU 61
TCU fought as hard as they could, but they came up just short against the number 9 team in the country.
02/21/15 Kansas 81 vs. TCU 72
The Frogs hung close throughout, but couldn't quite do enough to slow Kansas down on offense and end up on the losing end tonight.
03/12/15: Kansas 64 vs. TCU 59 (Big 12 Tournament)
TCU basketball fought hard against Kansas all game long, but came up just short in the Big 12 quarterfinals.
Kansas 80, TCU 60
Allen Fieldhouse is statistically the greatest home field advantage, not only in college basketball, but in all of North American sports. Since 2007, Kansas is 140-3 at home, the best record of any team in their home facility across all college and professional sports in the United States. In fact, since 1994, the Jayhawks have only dropped 15 home games. Kansas has won 23 straight home Big 12 games, the last defeat coming to Oklahoma State in 2013. With the talent that the Jayhawks bring into this season, it will be very difficult for TCU to break that streak.
Kansas 77, TCU 61
In three contests against Kansas last season, TCU lost by a combined 17 points. The Frogs were a half-court shot away from forcing overtime in Fort Worth, and a couple of bad breaks away from upsetting KU in the Quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament. This year's game in Fort Worth takes place on the exact date of the Frogs' 62-55 upset win over #5 Kansas in 2013. Despite recent history, TCU will need some extra magic at home to keep things close with what could be Bill Self's most talented roster since his 2008 National Championship team.
Opponent Team Previews:
Game 1: Southeastern Louisiana
Game 2: Houston Baptist
Game 3: South Dakota State
Game 4: Rhode Island
Game 5: Maryland /Illinois State
Game 6: SMU
Game 7: Colgate
Game 8: Washington
Game 9: Prairie View A&M
Game 10: Abilene Christian
Game 11: Bradley
Game 12: Delaware State
Games 13 & 24: Oklahoma State
Games 14 & 25: West Virginia
Games 15 & 20: Texas
Games 16 & 29: Baylor
Games 17 & 23: Kansas
Games 18 & 28: Texas Tech (11/1)
Games 19 & 27: Iowa State (11/2)
Game 21: Tennessee (11/3)
Games 22 & 31: Oklahoma (11/4)
Games 26 & 30: Kansas State (11/5)