We take another look at the Kansas Jayhawks and their NCAA Basketball future odds for the 2014-15 season. How do we predict this team to fare after loosing two of it's biggest stars to the NBA?
The Kansas Jayhawks lose two players who were picked in the first three spots of the 2014 NBA Draft. Are they in huge trouble this season? We think not, and the NCAA Basketball odds are giving them a 15/1 shot at cutting down the nets at the end of the season.
Who’s Out, Who’s In?
The Jayhawks won’t have two of the brightest and biggest stars in the past college basketball season. Andrew Wiggins always appeared to be one of the top two picks in the draft, due to his explosive leaping ability and his constant work ethic at both ends of the court. Wiggins was able to make a lot of second-jump plays, in other words, plays that occurred because he was able to jump, land, and then jump a second time to get a rebound or explode to the rim. Wiggins added so much to Kansas’ level of athleticism, and while his jump shot wasn’t quite there, a player’s jump shot is fixable in the NBA, when there are no restrictions on practice time.
For Joel Embiid, it also seemed likely for a period of time that he would be a top-two pick, but a series of injuries brought him down to third, and he’s lucky that he didn’t drop a lot more in the draft, due to fears about a big man’s ability to withstand the force of professional basketball on a nightly basis. When he was healthy, though, Embiid was a dominant big man, overwhelming with his length and his power near the basket.
How will Kansas cope with these losses? The Jayhawks should be just fine. Star wing Perry Ellis returns and will be the veteran leader on the team, but he’ll be joined by two new freshmen who could take the places of Wiggins and Embiid. Kelly Oubre is seen as being a player on the periphery of the 2015 NBA Draft Lottery, but he’s not the top dog in KU’s new recruiting class. Cliff Alexander is a 6-9, 240-pound force of activity and energy near the paint. He might not be as long as Embiid, but he’s going to be very hard to root out of the paint. Other teams will need a very strong and experienced pivot to contend with Alexander in the coming season.
The Jayhawks should be challenged by Texas, which has once again become a factor under coach Rick Barnes after a terrible 2013 season. Kansas will also be pushed by Iowa State, which should continue to be a strong team under coach Fred Hoiberg. Oklahoma should also be in the mix with most of a young team coming back this season. Kansas State might also be a factor, but the Wildcats are only very good at home, not on the road. The big thing to remember with Kansas is that it has won the Big 12 regular season championship for 10 straight seasons, since 2005. When you have a track record like that, it’s pure foolishness to bet against it. This is the best team in the Big 12 until proven otherwise.
March Madness Outlook
The Jayhawks are at 15/1 to win the NCAA Championship and they’ll go as far in March as their perimeter shooting will take them. Kansas has struggled to hit long-distance shots, which keeps the lane clogged so its big men can’t operate. Expect the Jayhawks to make the Sweet 16, but not more.
NCAA Basketball Picks & Predictions: Big 12 champions, Sweet 16 in NCAA Tournament