Bill Self

Are we overlooking Kansas this preseason?


Unless you write for Lindy’s, the general consensus seems to be that Kentucky should be the nation’s No. 1 team in the preseason.

And that’s fair, considering the fact that they are bringing in one of the best recruiting classes of all-time, they have eight guys that could one day be picked in the first round of the NBA Draft and they have a coach that has excelled at convincing teams with an overload of talent to buy into their roles.

Lindy’s had Michigan State ranked No. 1, a team that seems to join with Louisville to complete a consensus top three.

Arizona has gotten plenty of preseason hype as well, in large part due to landing Aaron Gordon, and with Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood joining Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke has been crowned as the favorite in the ACC, the best league in the land.

It may just be me, but it seems like one of the nation’s best programs has been overlooked throughout much of the summer: the Kansas Jayhawks.

Now, when calling Kansas overlooked, we have to keep it in perspective. But the fact of the matter is that, given the talent on their roster and the head coach they have stalking the sidelines, doesn’t it make sense that the Jayhawks be in the conversation with Kentucky, Michigan State and Louisville as a title favorite?

Think about it like this: the guy that everyone expects to be the best player in the country and the No. 1 overall pick, Andrew Wiggins, is a Jayhawk. There are quite a few people that expect him to have the impact that Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant did in their one season on campus, and I count myself among them.

But he’s not alone. In Draft Express’ latest 2014 mock draft, Kansas is projected to have two of the top six picks (Joel Embiid) and three of the top 14 picks (Wayne Selden), which is more than anyone else in the country.

Yes, Kansas does have question marks. The point guard spot could end up being an issue all season long, and youth isn’t guaranteed to be good immediately at the college level. Perry Ellis’ development will be critical as well, and it will be interesting to see just how good the Jayhawks end up being from a defensive standpoint.

But while everyone has spent the summer lauding Kentucky’s recruiting class, it seems like the talent that Bill Self has amassed has managed to somehow slide a bit under the radar.

Kennesaw State blows eight-point lead in 16 seconds, loses to Elon

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Kennesaw State entered Monday night at 1-6 on the season, but with 19 seconds left, it looked like the Owls have their second of the season locked up. Kendrick Ray made a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left to put KSU up 89-81, and all they had to do was avoid a complete meltdown to get out with a win.

They couldn’t.

A Luke Eddy layup with 16 seconds left cut the lead to six, and after KSU’s Nigel Pruitt missed two free throws, Dainan Swoope his a three with seven seconds left to make the score 89-86.

On the ensuing inbounds, Kennesaw State threw the ball away … and then proceeded to foul Eddy when he was shooting a three. This is what that disaster looked like:

Eddy would hit all three threes before, shockingly, KSU turned the ball over again. Elon could not capitalize this time, sending the game to overtime, where the Phoenix outscored the Owls 14-4.

Elon won 104-94.

Here’s what the comeback looked like on the play-by-play:

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Rick Pitino: Louisville ‘just ignored’ in top 25 due of scandal

Rick Pitino
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Louisville beatdown Saint Louis at the Barclays Center on Sunday night, a 77-57 win that was much closer at halftime than the final score might indicate.

The win moved the Cardinals to 5-0 on the season, and that, in turn, got Louisville into the back end of both top 25 polls.

They’re 24th in the AP Poll and 22nd in the Coaches Poll, but that happened on Monday morning. On Sunday night, Pitino made sure to get a rant in about how this team is viewed and why pundits and voters should overlook the scandal currently plaguing his program.

“I think people are looking at that and they’re not really studying the team,” he said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, adding that he thinks the team is “just ignored” because of the accusations leveled by self-described madam Katina Powell in the book she published back in October.

And here’s the thing: he is 100 percent correct. Louisville was overlooked in the preseason because the scandal, when combined with the fact that the Cardinals are integrating so many new pieces into their rotation, made it tough to see how they would be able to compete at a level that we’ve come to expect out of Louisville teams.

I know that because it’s why my colleagues at, against my wishes, refused to allow me to rank Louisville in the preseason top 25. In other words, I’ve had first-hand interactions with the haters. But if we’re going to be honest here, scandal or no scandal, Louisville probably wasn’t going to find their way into the preseason top 25, not when they had to replace Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell.

And scandal or no scandal, no team from outside the top 25 is going to play their way into the top 25 by beating the likes of North Florida and St. Francis (NY) without some shenanigans — like Fred VanVleet getting hurt, like Indiana collapsing, like Arizona and Cal and Notre Dame playing their way out of the top 20 — happening around the country.

So Pitino is right: the scandal probably did have an impact on how his team was viewed in the preseason.

But Pitino the scandal isn’t what kept them out of the top 25 until Monday.

That weak non-conference schedule and roster turnover was why.

And if we’re going to be honest here, it probably should have kept them out for another week.