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Spencer Parlier | | December 18, 2019

Does Kansas have one of college basketball's toughest schedules? Jayhawks coach Bill Self thinks so

Here's how the latest Power 36 compares to new AP Top 25, first NET rankings

It's no secret that college basketball has been a merry-go-around as far as who's the top team in the land. Since the release of the preseason AP poll, five different teams have held the No. 1 spot.

This week, it's Kansas' turn on top of the rankings and the Jayhawks' head coach, Bill Self, doesn't even know if they deserve to be there, or if anyone else does for that matter.

"I don't think that we necessarily deserve that," Self said on this week's edition of the March Madness 365 podcast about the Jayhawks being No. 1. "But I don't think anybody really does, to be honest." 

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Self is keeping his expectations in check for Kansas' season, noting his team's performance against its toughest opponent, Duke, at the beginning of the season in the Champions Classic. The Jayhawks lost to the Blue Devils 68-66. 

Self told Andy Katz that he expects the parity at the No. 1 spot to continue throughout the season, bringing up a tough stretch of games that Kansas is about to face. 

"I know we're not going to run the table," Self said. "I know that it'll probably be a mixture of teams that continue to hold that spot, as our schedule gets tougher, going to Villanova and going to Stanford."

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Kansas has notable wins against BYU, Dayton and Colorado. Its lone loss came against Duke on Nov. 5. Self is also proud of his team's victories over East Tennessee State and UNC Greensboro -- teams that he considers early-season darlings. 

Looking ahead, the Jayhawks have two tough road games before opening up conference play against No. 25 West Virginia on Jan. 4. Kansas visits Villanova on Dec. 21 and then travels to Stanford a week later on the 29th. 

"Who knows what will happen, I do think we're playing better and certainly I like our guys," Self said. "I'd rather be there [No. 1] in February or March obviously than now, but I do think we're off to a good start."

After Big 12 play gets started with West Virginia, Kansas' journey to the tournament does not get easier. They'll have to travel to Iowa State, Oklahoma and Texas while hosting the Mountaineers and No. 10 Baylor all in the span of two weeks. 

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Self isn't the only one who has recognized Kansas' early-season gauntlet. As of today, the Jayhawks currently sit at No. 1 in the NET rankings, the primary ranking system that the NCAA developed to replace the RPI last season. Their No. 1 ranking has a lot to do with their strength of schedule. 

Their overall SOS and nonconference SOS both rank No. 3 in the nation respectively. The Jayhawks' No. 1 ranking is also back up by the fact that they are 9-1 overall with a 2-1 record against Quadrant 1 opponents (wins against Dayton and BYU, loss versus Duke), 1-0 against Quadrant 2 opponents (win versus Colorado) 2-0 in Quadrant 3 (wins against UNC Greensboro and East Tennessee State) and 3-0 in Quadrant 4 (wins over Milwaukee, Monmouth and UMKC).   

"I do think our schedule has been good but I think the appearance of our schedule is going to get a lot better because most teams have played their hard non-conference games and we still got at Villanova, at Stanford and Tennessee left," Self told Katz. 

With Kansas having 11 potential Quadrant 1 matchups remaining on the season, the Jayhawks could retain their position as one of the top teams in the NET, especially if they make a dominant run in the Big 12. 

Self's interview with Katz begins at about the 7:45 mark of the podcast and covers all of these topics and more. This week's edition of the March Madness 365 podcast also features an interview with NCAA Director of Media Coordination/Statistics David Worlock.

The March Madness 365 podcast is a weekly podcast covering all things college basketball. You can listen and subscribe to the podcast here, on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher.

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