The Kansas Jayhawks are ranked No. 3 in the preseason AP Poll and have extremely high expectations for the 2013-14 college basketball season ever since No. 1 overall recruit and future No. 1 overall NBA draft pick Andrew Wiggins committed.
Wiggins may be the player everyone is talking about, but he won’t be the key to the Jayhawks’ success. Naadir Tharpe has to become a consistent offensive threat, and freshman Joel Embiid is a 7-foot tall center that must cause havoc in the paint. Perry Ellis will have to step up and produce more this season, and Memphis transfer Tarik Black will also have to have a big year for the Jayhawks to succeed.
Kansas’ roster has talent at every position on the court, but will that be enough?
Kansas has one of the most difficult non-conference schedules in the country. The Jayhawks face the No. 4 Duke Blue Devils in a huge game that could possibly be the difference between a No. 1 and No. 2 2014 NCAA Tournament seed at the end of the year. Along with Duke, they face a dangerous No. 10 Florida Gators team as well as the No. 23 New Mexico Lobos.
However, the biggest chance of a non-conference upset comes from the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. If the Tennessee Volunteers can make it past the UTEP Miners and the Xavier Musketeers in the first two rounds, there is a possibility of a Tennessee vs. Kansas final.
Wiggins isn’t going to face a team better prepared to shut him down all season long. Coming from the SEC, Cuonzo Martin and the Volunteers have experience with dealing with one-and-done freshmen as seen in their wins against the Kentucky Wildcats. This game has the potential to be a major upset and if it happens, it should be a must-watch.
As if their non-conference schedule wasn’t difficult enough, they face Marcus Smart and the No. 8 Oklahoma State Cowboys as well as the No. 25 Baylor Bears in Big 12 play twice. They might drop one or two of these games, but expect the Jayhawks to run away with the Big 12 because they’re in another class from teams such as the Texas Longhorns, the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the TCU Horned Frogs.
When it’s all said and done, I predict the Jayhawks will win the Big 12 and to go to the Final Four. Kansas is one of the few teams in the country that don’t seem to have a major weakness.