The Big 12 preseason poll, as voted on by the league's coaches, featured a familiar theme: Don't bet against Kansas.
Despite losing the Morris twins to the first round of the NBA draft and adding seven newcomers, the Jayhawks tied with a veteran Texas A&M team as picks to finish first. That apparently surprised Kansas.
"I didn't actually see that, but Coach (Bill Self) mentioned it in the locker room," guard Tyshawn Taylor told reporters. "That's pretty cool. I think we were all actually surprised. I mean, it's a compliment so we’re excited about it. We're going to take that and run with it."
Said Self: "Yeah, I'm surprised. I always say that the coaches know more than the media, but I'm not sure that's the case in our league right now. Last year we had the twins and (Brady) Morningstar, Tyrel Reed and (Josh) Selby and I think the coaches picked us third. Well now, we don't have any of those guys, but that doesn't bother me. We've kind of gone into the season with tempered expectations, to be honest with you, and I've tried to do that with our fans a little bit. I think it's fine and we’re kind of used to being in the situation where people expect us to be decent and we won’t shy away from that."
To correct Self, Kansas was actually picked second last season, behind Kansas State. Of course, the Jayhawks ended up Big 12 champions anyway, so the coaches might have been shy about going against them as favorites this season.
The biggest snub would seem to be Baylor, which was picked third despite having preseason player of the year Perry Jones III. To show how far the Bears have come in terms of expectations, third was actually the highest the program has ever been picked.
Oddly, Self seemed somewhat confused about which team he picked, since coaches can't choose their own teams first.
"I know Texas A&M is going to be good and personally I picked Baylor to finish first in league and I think I picked A&M, too," Self said. "What I picked and what anyone else picked this time of year doesn’t mean anything."