Right now, I couldn’t tell you who’s going to win the NCAA Basketball Championship.

November 1, 2018 | Liam Blutman

Kanas Jayhawks

Daron Russell, the kid they call Fatts, will be the next great player at Rhode Island and he’s about to have an incredible sophomore season.

My gut says to pick Nevada, my brain says to pick Kansas. I’m torn; I think both these teams are filled with talent and have what it takes to dethrone Villanova and North Carolina, the two teams who have shared the title the last three years with Nova winning in 2016 and 2018, UNC being crowned in 2017.

I’m going to give you my thoughts on Kansas. If you’d like to read my article on Nevada I’ll link it at the end of this article.

Why Kansas? This roster is loaded and has great depth. I’ll start with Udoka Azubuike, a 7 foot center coming back for his junior season. Last season Udoka averaged 13.0 PPG and 7.0 RPG, and he added 1.7 blocks per game. He’s a beast down low and should dominate this season after getting bigger, stronger, and smarter. I’m super excited to watch Udoka in the paint on offense and defense.

A valuable addition to this Jayhawks team is the Lawson brother from Memphis. Dedric Lawson is an elite scorer who averaged 19.2 points per game in the 2016-17 season at Memphis. Lest we forget Dedric is a great rebounder as well? He snagged 9.9 rebounds per game in that same season. Dedric also blocked 2.1 shots per game. K.J. was able to score 12.3 points per game in 2016-17 at Memphis, and he added 8.1 rebounds per game.

To pair Dedric and K.J. with Udoka is a problem and other teams just don’t have the bigs to stop them. Both Dedric and K.J. have seen time at guard. Kansas can use them at guard and get so many mismatches. These three will be a scary sight for opposing teams.

Returning for his senior season is guard Lagerald Vick. Last season he averaged 12.1 PPG while adding 4.8 RPG and 2.1 APG. He shot 37% from three and I expect him to get that up to 40% this season. Another thing Vick will improve is his free throw %, which was at 67% last season after he shot 82% from the line as a sophomore. The senior leader will be a big part of the Jayhawks success.

Other players to look out for are Silvio De Sousa who has great potential, Marcus Garrett who will see more opportunities, Charlie Moore, a transfer from Cal who is another good scorer. As for the incoming freshman, Kansas had a top five recruiting class in 2018 as Quentin Grimes, Devon Dotson, David McCormack, and Ochai Agbaji join the team. Grimes and Dotson are two guards to look out for as both can carry out great freshman seasons while they learn from senior leader, Lagerald Vick and coach Bill Self. McCormack is a center who might not see much playing time due to a crowded group of big men with Udoka, De Sousa, and Dedric Lawson. Agbaji is a guard/forward who I think could be a spark plug off the bench.

Kansas tips off their season with the Champions Classic against Michigan State in Indianapolis. This is a great test to begin the season and see where you compare against another top team. They’ll also participate in the NIT Season Tip-Off in Brooklyn where they’ll play Markus Howard and Marquette.

After that, they’ll play the winner/loser of Louisville/Tennessee. That’s a very good field of four for an early season tournament that gives you a little taste of what’s to come in March. Mark your calendars for December 15th as the Jayhawks take on the defending champ, Villanova. This is another incredible test for Kansas, and just a great game us college basketball fans can’t wait for. KU also plays host to Stanford and travels to Tempe for a matchup with Arizona State.

Amidst conference play, Kansas takes a break for one game as they travel to Rupp Arena in Lexington to play Kentucky as a part of the SEC/BIG 12 Challenge. This is another premier matchup Kansas boasts... another opportunity to show why they are a threat to win the National Championship. This is a fantastic non-conference schedule that will prepare Kansas for the great teams they’ll play come March in the NCAA Tournament. This is also a huge reason as to why I see the Jayhawks making a run in the tournament and possibly winning it all.

I’d also like to point out two matchups on January 19th and February 16th. KU plays West Virginia and these are must watch games. Udoka Azubuike will go up against one of the best big men in the game, Sagaba Konate. Sagaba is one of the best shot blockers I have ever seen and the matchup between these two down low will be nothing short of amazing.

I’m curious to know who you think will win the NCAA Championship this season. Tweet me @Blutman27 and I’ll give you my thoughts.


Liam Blutman is a first-year student at Santa Monica College bringing a series of articles and editorials about collegiate athletics and young athletes in professional sports. A natural Bruins/Angels fan and solid sports gamer, look for more content coming soon and follow Liam on twitter.

 

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