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Non-Conference Preview: F Kansas

They’re coming back to Columbia.

Villanova v Kansas Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A version of this post was originally published Oct 6, 2021, during the preseason looks at the non-conference schedule. I could get worked up again and write this in a different way, or I could just make some updates. I present, Kansas still sucks:

I’m still thrilled the Border War is back, despite Mizzou getting chainsawed in Allen Fieldhouse last December. I don’t want anything misconstrued as me not being happy about the games resuming.

If you’re a fan of college basketball, the Mizzou-Kansas rivalry game is up there with the all-time best rivalries around. I think Duke-North Carolina is the best rivalry, but MU-KU is up there with Kentucky-Louisville, Indiana-Purdue, Georgetown-Syracuse, and Michigan-Michigan State. The fact this game wasn’t immediately created upon Missouri’s exit from the Big 12 back in 2012 was a disservice to College Basketball and was largely due to Bill Self’s over-inflated sense of self-worth.

But Athletic Director changes, and head coaching changes (all at Missouri) led to some different eyes and it got done. Realistically, this game should never not be scheduled, and from the Missouri side it creates a wonderful bookend for an exciting month of December with the annual Braggin’ Rights game set in St. Louis from here to eternity. So it would make sense to have your western border rival set for a matchup right along with your eastern border rival.

And now KU returns to Columbia for the first time since this happened:

Kansas v Missouri
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The rest of the Non-con (complete with links to the post):

While revving up the rivalry is great, it’s a challenge. KU is the reigning National Champion (I half vomited in my throat when I said that). You won’t get penalized for losing to them where the NCAA selection committee is concerned. But nobody likes to lose.

I’ll do my best to sum up what this program is at this point in time. Despite the fact that NCAA allegations and involvement in the FBI scandal STILL (seriously... how long has this FBI thing been going on... like 5 years?) linger over the program, Kansas is again fielding an elite roster and they’ll be very good again.

West Virginia v Kansas
There’s always money in the banana stand, Michael.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Head Coach | Bill Self | 20th Season

My feelings on Bill Self are well known and quite public, click on the link and skip to the 45 minute mark if you want to know. He’s an undeniably great basketball coach. He invented a version of the high-low offense which has been copied by all kinds of coaches. He’s Hall of Fame-level good, and probably one of the 10 best College Basketball coaches of all time.

Now that I’ve said that, let me also say, Bill Self is a cheater. He cheated at Illinois, he’s continued Kansas’ long tradition of cheating in Lawrence, and it’s actual comedy the NCAA still hasn’t done anything about it. They have released a notice of allegations, to which Kansas has responded in a completely predictable way by denying they had any knowledge Adidas was paying their players despite damn text message FROM BILL SELF to TJ Gassnola:

The extent of the relationship between Self and Gassnola is extensive, and the connection to Adidas literally put people in jail. So while Self is absolutely a great coach, it helps a LOT to start from a standpoint of being able to buy your talent within a black market where shoe companies are interested in funneling the top kids your way. The same thing happens with Nike, and Kansas isn’t the only school led by a cheating coach, and certainly not the only blue blood school, either. But to discuss any head coach of a college basketball program and not acknowledge how they’re charged with a lack of institutional control by the NCAA and had a very close personal relationship with the same rep who was paying his players while pretending he didn’t know a thing about the payments is just journalistic malpractice. And you all know me as a serious journalist.

As the NCAA has dragged its feet, and the punishments for the infractions are delayed, KU won another National Championship. Like... LMAO

So I’ll conclude here by saying: Bill Self sucks. F**k that guy.

Series History | Kansas leads 93-52

Ok, so a 37% win rate against your historical rival could be worse; the rivalry between the two schools was largely one-sided outside of the Norm Stewart years. Pre Norm, KU was 31-13 against the Tigers, which occurred from 1950 to 1968. In the Norm years, Missouri cut that to 39-32. So KU went from a 70% win rate to a 54% win rate. That increased to a 75% win rate post-Norm, when KU won 21 of the 28 constests between the two schools from 2000 and on. Bill Self’s record against Mizzou is 15-5.

So while this is very much a rivalry, and both schools badly want to beat one another, the recent history has deeply sided with Kansas, and historically with Kansas, and Missouri should be pretty thankful for the Norm Stewart era. Norm very famously hated KU, and built up the heat of the rivalry in the best way. He refused to spend money in Kansas, though that may be more urban legend or pronounced than actually applicable. But he said it. So it’s true.

Kansas State v Kansas Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

What about the team now?

I don’t think you’ll have to worry about being hit on the head with a chair if you sit close to the court, since Silvio De Sousa has moved on from his KU, and now college, career. But who Kansas does have on the roster is pretty danged good.

Looming NCAA sanctions? No problem, we’ll still enroll a top 5 class and land an impact transfer to go with multiple starters coming back from a team that won the National title last year.

Gone are David McCormick, Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun, Remy Martin, 8th year Senior Jalen Coleman-Lands, and 12th year senior Mitch Lightfoot. Coming back is Columbia native and the guy who assisted on a lot of Isiaih Mosley’s high school points, Dajuan Harris. Next to him will be skilled forward Jalen Wilson, who tested the NBA waters but returned to school. K.J. Adams found minutes as a defensive stopper later in the year, Joseph Yesufu transferred from Drake to be a backup point guard. And Freshmen Zach Clemence and Bobby Pettiford both played very sparingly, and should get larger roles this season.

Two-time NCAA D2 All American Cam Martin returns also after redshirting following an injury before the season. And Kyle Cuffe, a former top 120 recruit, redshirted last year as well and returns hoping for minutes at guard.

Newcomers start with Texas Tech transfer Kevin McCullar, a big defensive guard who should start right away. With him is 5-star big wing Gradey Dick. Dick is a top 20 player and very much looks the part of a guy who most opposing fans are going to hate. He’s really good, tough, physical, and plays with an edge. He can shoot the cover off the ball, and he’s got gold locks. KU also signed top 30 wing MJ Rice, and top 35 post Ernest Udeh. Along with top 60 forward Zuby Ejiofor.

I counted 17 players listed on KU’s roster online, and I know Wilder Evers (yes, that’s a real name), Dillon Wilhite (also real), Charlie McCarthy, and Michael Jankovich are all walk-ons. So that means the Jayhawks are full up on their scholarships and not exceeding their limit like they were a year ago.

But yeah, they’ll be good again this season.

At least until the NCAA releases their penalties, which will almost certainly be lenient enough to make Mizzou fans roll their eyes, while stiff enough for Kansas fans to complain about the the program being reprimanded at all about breaking rules for the last... I dunno... century? How long have they been fielding a competitive basketball team?