KU men’s basketball adds another preseason No. 1 ranking. Here’s the reason behind it

Kansas men’s basketball earned a No. 1 national ranking in Andy Katz’s 2023-24 preseason Power 36 revealed Thursday — just a few hours after Wednesday night’s NBA Draft early entry withdrawal deadline passed.

The Jayhawks, strengthened by the recent decision of senior guard Kevin McCullar to exit the draft and play a super-senior season at KU, earned the top slot in Katz’s Power 36, revealed at NCAA.com.

Duke was No. 2, followed by Michigan State, Purdue, Marquette, Florida Atlantic, Miami, Gonzaga, Creighton and UConn in the top 10.

No. 11 was Texas, followed by USC, Houston, Arkansas, San Diego State, Arizona, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio State, Illinois, Tennessee, Maryland, Texas A&M, Northwestern, West Virginia, Mississippi State, Indiana, Alabama, UCLA, Providence, Wisconsin, Villanova, Auburn, Colorado, Pitt and Rutgers.

Kansas State was listed as one of Katz’s “NCAA Tournament-bound contenders” with Baylor, Saint Mary’s, Iowa State, TCU, Virginia, Xavier, St. John’s, Oregon, Arizona State, Utah, Clemson, Dayton, Syracuse, Boise State, New Mexico and Memphis.

Of KU, Katz wrote; “The Jayhawks have a chance to win the national title for the second time in three seasons. The big catch was getting Michigan center Hunter Dickinson. The return of Kevin McCullar, Dajuan Harris and KJ Adams gives Bill Self enough to make another run.”

CBSsports.com analyst Gary Parrish kept KU No. 1 in his Top 25 and 1 poll Thursday despite Purdue learning that Zach Edey had withdrawn his name from the 2023 NBA Draft. The Boilermakers, Duke Blue Devils and Jayhawks have been mentioned as strong NCAA title contenders. Edey is the reigning national player of the year.

KU and Purdue are followed in Parrish’s poll by Duke, FAU, Michigan State, Marquette, Houston, Creighton, Miami and Arkansas in the top 10.

No. 11 is UConn, followed by USC, San Diego State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Arizona, Gonzaga, Alabama, Texas, Baylor, Saint Mary’s, North Carolina, Illinois, Villanova, Kentucky and Mississippi State.

“Edey’s announcement means Purdue is No. 2 in Version 16.0 of the Top 25 And 1, where Kansas remains No. 1 thanks to the return of Dajuan Harris, Kevin McCuller and KJ Adams, and the addition of former Michigan All-American Hunter Dickinson, ex-Towson sharpshooter Nick Timberlake and five-star freshman Elmarko Jackson,” Parrish wrote. “The Jayhawks are loaded, coached by a Naismith Memorial Hall of Famer (Bill Self) and the favorites in the betting markets to win the 2024 NCAA Tournament.”

Kentucky had a rough deadline day. The Wildcats’ Oscar Tshiebwe and Chris Livingston elected to stay in the draft while Antonio Reeves, who exited the draft, has not yet decided if he’ll return to UK or transfer to another school. Kentucky currently has seven scholarship players on its roster, including five highly-regarded freshmen.

“Those developments leave UK with just one player who averaged at least 2.4 points per game last season projected to return, and even that player (Reeves) isn’t 100% on board at this moment,” Parrish wrote. “In other words, John Calipari has some work to do to turn the Wildcats into legitimate Final Four contenders.”

KU also remains the No. 1 overall seed in ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology, which was not updated after the withdrawal deadline.