After taking a look at two SEC teams in LSU and Florida, we will take a look at the third most important game for the Tennessee Volunteers this season.
This game would typically be higher on this list, considering the historical prominence this team has had for decades. Because of an NCAA investigation going on with the program, there are a few question marks regarding Kansas and what will happen this season.
The Kansas game comes on this list at No. 3, considering they have a number of important games throughout the season. The top three games of the season were hard to pick considering all three of them have been prominent for more than the last decade.
I put Kansas at No. 3, though, because of its continued investigation by the NCAA. I doubt it will effect the Jayhawks this year, but it will be interesting to see what (if anything) the NCAA hands down to the program. In the offseason, Kansas was struck with major allegations that included Level 1 violations. Level 1 violations typically include the most severe punishments which include postseason bans and the loss of scholarships.
It will also be interesting to see what the NCAA does with Jayhawks head coach Bill Self, as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Self suspended at some point, especially after the Snoop Dogg show at the Jayhawks’ preseason scrimmage. That performance included fake money being shot into the crowd, dirty lyrics, and pole dancers, which is risky business considering the school was hit with a “lack of institutional control.”
Anyways, let’s take a look at this year’s team. They currently sit at No. 3 on the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25.
The Jayhawks will have a tall task, as they have to replace their top two scorers from last year’s team.
Both Dedric Lawson and Lagerald Vick went to the NBA. Lawson was one of the most consistent scorers in the NCAA, averaging 19.4 PPG. Lawson was named to the third-team All-American list. Kansas also lost its top three-point shooter from last season in Vick. Vick shot more threes than anyone on the team by a long shot. He averaged just under three 3PM’s a game on his way to 14.1 PPG.
They will also have to replace Quintin Grimes, K.J. Lawson, and Charlie Moore.
Despite losing five players, the Jayhawks return a number of key players from last year’s squad. One of the biggest returnees is Udoka Azubuike. Azubuike is considered one of the best centers in the country. He was one of Kansas’ best players in ’18-’19 before he had a season-ending wrist injury. He had a huge impact on the team, as they won all nine games he appeared in, where he averaged 13.4 PPG.
Devon Dotson also returns after testing the NBA Draft waters. He will look to have a huge sophomore season after averaging 12.3 PPG as a freshman, while also dishing out 3.5 APG. Dotson will play a huge role for Kansas and is already receiving preseason hype. He was named to the watch list for the Bob Cousy Award, which also includes Vols guard Lamonte Turner.
The Jayhawks also have Ochai Agbaji, one of the most slept on players in the country. Agbaji missed 1/3 of the season, but averaged almost nine points a game in the 22 games he appeared in. The Jayhawks will also look to get contributions from Marcus Garrett and Silvio De Sousa.
Despite not playing in a game yet, De Sousa has been in the news a lot recently, as his name was mentioned in the NCAA investigation. De Sousa was originally suspended for two seasons, but won his appeal and will play for the Jayhawks this season.
Kansas added a grad transfer in Isaiah Moss to replace the three-point production that Vick put up. Moss transferred from Iowa and will look to have an immediate impact, just a year after averaging over nine points a game and shooting 42 percent from beyond the arc.
Kansas once again had a solid recruiting class. They finished 15th overall in the 2019 rankings. They didn’t land a single five-star but added two four-star SF’s to try and replace the production of Lawson. Jalen Wilson and Tristan Enaruna will look to have an immediate impact for the Jayhawks. Wilson comes into Kansas ranked as the 53rd best player in the class, while Enaruna was No. 64 in the 2019 recruiting class.
They also added Christian Braun at SF and Issac McBride at CG.
The Vols and the Jayhawks had an outstanding game last season in the NIT Preseason Tipoff final in Brooklyn. While both teams come into this game looking different from last season, this game will be yet another interesting matchup between the two teams.
Tennessee will make the trip to Allen Fieldhouse during the middle of the season as a part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. That game will be on Jan. 25 and will be featured on ESPN. The Vols will luckily have a few lighter games against SEC opponents before heading to “The Phog.”
It’ll be interesting to see how Dotson matches up against Turner, Jordan Bowden, and Josiah James in this matchup.