Over the years, Kansas men’s basketball has been through some wild season-ending moments. But, no one could have predicted this season’s outcome.
Although it won’t get the opportunity to compete for a national title, this year’s Kansas team may have been the best coach Bill Self has put together in the last decade and should be remembered as so.
After having its 14 consecutive conference title-streak snapped a season ago, the 2019-2020 Jayhawks reclaimed the regular season Big 12 championship in dominant fashion. They blew through their conference schedule with a 17-1 record and an average point margin of +11.1. Additionally, Kansas’ lone conference loss to Baylor was later avenged with a 64-61 win in Waco, Texas.
Kansas’ impressive season earned number one in the several rankings systems including the Associated Press Poll, USA Today Coaches Poll, ESPN’s basketball power index (BPI), RPI and Kenpom. This is even more impressive considering most of those metrics had the Jayhawks ranked number one in strength of schedule as well.
Given the crazy nature of the NCAA tournament, this doesn’t mean Kansas would have won the national championship, but it had favorable chance. Of the 18 teams that finished previous seasons as Kenpom’s highest rated, 10 went on to win it all.
In a March 16 teleconference, per ESPN, Self said he didn’t think any other team had a better season this year than his. Though he’d like the championship trophy, he understands it wouldn’t be the same as years past knowing the circumstances.
"I would think, from our standpoint, that would be great," Self said. "But even if that occurred, and I don't think it would, there'd be a huge asterisk on our side, and I'd be the first one to admit it. This would be the year I'd be all in favor because there's a great chance we'd be No. 1 in the country in most everything when all the rankings are turned in."
Udoka Azubuike, Devon Dotson, Marcus Garrett and Ochai Agbaji all achieved 2020 All-Big 12 Awards, marking a notable season for Kansas men's basketball.
What separated this year’s Kansas team above all others was its ability to lock down opposing teams. The Jayhawks’ 85.5 rating in adjusted defense per Kenpom is the highest Kansas has scored since the system’s beginning and currently ranks No. 2 in the country, putting them in a three-team tie for the sixth highest rating since 2002.
Offensively, Kansas may not have been as explosive as years past, but its efficiency stood out. Kansas senior center Udoka Azubuike set an NCAA record for highest field goal percentage in a season since 1992 (74.56%). He was paired with the Big 12’s points per game leader, sophomore guard Devon Dotson, averaging 18.1 points per game. The duo led Kansas to claim the highest scoring offense in the Big 12.
Top to bottom, the Jayhawks’ roster was loaded, and its numerous accolades backed that up.
Azubuike was named Big 12 Player of the Year and a joined Dotson as a First-Team All-Conference selection and John R. Wooden Award finalist. Junior guard Marcus Garrett also took home the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Award and earned Third-Team All-Conference honor.