Every year I watch a couple of University of Kansas men's basketball games and then try to dissect where the team is headed. The 2016-17 Jayhawks have more than enough firepower to take a 13th straight Big 12 crown, but I doubt that it has the stuff of Final 4 material. Last year's squad did and it couldn't get past eventual national champion Villanova. Last year's squad had depth to die for. This year's squad, not so much.
Talent wise, starting five, this team is much better than last year's squad. I'll trade Josh Jackson for Wayne Selden any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Carlton Bragg is more than an adequate replacement for Perry Ellis. That leaves holdovers Frank Mason III, Devonte Graham and Landon Lucas, a trio that brings more experience to the floor than any team since the national champion squad of 2008.
But once you get past Lucas and Bragg, the front line choices are horrific. Udoka Azubike is a man child who has so much potential in the post it's scary. But after that you are left with Mitch "Gordon" Lightfoot, who is a year away from being a player who can contribute. Because of this Kansas will be playing four guards, a lot.
The flip side Kansas has the best guard tandem in the country with Mason and Graham. Their backups would start for 99 percent of the teams in the country. Svi Myklailiuk will play in the NBA. His ability to score is unquestioned, this ability to defend, well not so much. The gem Bill Self who sat unnoticed on the bench much of last year is Lagerald Vick. This long and lanky off guard can play defense and his game on the offensive end, while shaky, shows promise.
Kansas as it has shown in the first two games of the season will live and die by the foul. The lack of depth will rear its ugly head on nights when Bragg and Lucas get into foul trouble, which is a sure bet. The only up side is Kansas is better offensively in the four guard set, especially with Myklailiuk on the floor.
K.U. would have been a Final 4 lock if Cheick Diallo hadn't turned into Cliff Alexander part 2. At least Cheick is in the NBA. But in the end, the Kansas Jayhawks will be one tough out when March rolls around.