In fact, the Jayhawks landed 38% of the votes from coaches. That’s a monstrous return, considering Kentucky landed just 18% and Duke landed just behind the Wildcats at 15%.
It should be noted that Kentucky’s rival, Tennessee, came in at fifth on the coaches poll just behind Gonzaga. The Volunteers received 9% of the coaches’ votes.
Here’s what some of he coaches had to say about the Wildcats:
“Kentucky is going to be a little older than usual. That’ll make all the difference in the world.”
”I just got a chance to watch Kentucky [play exhibitions in the Bahamas]. It looks like their talent-level is off the charts. And I think the world of [John Calipari] as a basketball coach. I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves. He gains notoriety in a lot of ways. But nobody talks about him as a top-level tactician.”
”I don’t know if they have a freshman star like Anthony Davis or Karl Towns. But they have five-star kids like always. And getting Reid Travis was big. They’ve got experienced guys. That helps a lot.”
The complete list can be found here.
Kansas does return marque contributors such as Lagerald Vick and Udoka Azubuike. They also add freshman such as top-10 recruit Quentin Grimes and 21st ranked Devon Dotson.
Their greatest addition, however, will be the eligibility of Dedric Lawson following his transfer from Memphis.
One comment in the CBS story said “Kansas is talented, deep and old. They have to be the favorite to win it all. Dedric Lawson is going to dominate that league.”
Despite adding elite talent, the Jayhawks will be without their top-3 scorers from a season ago. As Kentucky fans should know, it’s not easy to flip a roster and expect immediate success.
While Kansas’s conference isn’t as challenging as Duke’s or Kentucky’s, it’s hard to fathom why so many coaches see Kansas as the overwhelming favorite to be the “best team.”
According to Las Vegas, the Jayhawks aren’t even the favorite to win the National Title. The Blue Devils, who sit at +450 to cut down the nets, are the favorite with Kansas sitting second at +650, just ahead of Gonzaga at +700 and Kentucky at +800.
While Duke doesn’t return as many significant bodies, it’d be irrational to say their incoming talent isn’t far superior to Kansas’s.
It’s also more than fair to say that Kentucky’s returning talent is just as significant, as well as the addition of graduate transfer Reid Travis and the addition of their talented freshmen.
Kansas absolutely deserves recognition, but the overhaul of votes seems like a bit of an overstatement.