Jayhawks a popular Final Four pick among ESPN college hoops analysts

photo by: Richard Gwin

New, bigger banners memorializing Kansas University's national champions - and a new Beware

The college basketball staff at ESPN this week released its predictions for this seasons’s Final Four, national champion, player of the year and coach of the year.

Not surprisingly, Kansas received more than a little love.

Of the 26 staffers who gave their picks, seven had Kansas advancing to the Final Four and one had the Jayhawks walking away with another national championship.

Get this, though: Twelve of the 26 had Wichita State reaching the Final Four and two prognosticators even had Kansas and Wichita State both going to the Final Four.

Wouldn’t that be a wild way to cap off KU coach Bill Self’s 15th season in charge of the program and the 120th season of Kansas basketball?

For a point of reference, 24 of the 26 prognosticators have Michigan State in their Final Four, 15 of the 26 have Duke in their Final Four, 14 have Arizona and 4 have Kentucky.

Real quick, here’s a look at the seven ESPN personalities who believe the Jayhawks are due for a return to the Final Four in the city where they won it all in 2008. Somewhat amazingly, three of them had the exact same Final Four and national champion…

• Jay Bilas – Duke, Michigan State, Arizona and KU, with Michigan State winning it all.

• Kyle Bonagura – Duke, Michigan State, Arizona and KU, with Michigan State winning it all.

• Dino Gaudio – Duke, Michigan State, Arizona and KU, with Michigan State winning it all.

• Dan Murphy – Duke, Michigan State, Wichita State and KU, with Duke winning it all.

• Mark Schlabach – Duke, Michigan State, Villanova and KU, with Michigan State winning it all.

• John Thompson III – Michigan State, Wichita State, Kentucky and KU, with Michigan State winning it all.

And the one ESPN personality who has KU winning it all this season is former Purdue forward Robbie Hummel, who saw first-hand in 2012 just how good the Jayhawks could be when Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor survived a second-round scare from Hummel’s Boilermakers en route to the national title game.

Hummel’s Final Four: Kansas, Arizona, Michigan State and Villanova.

But Hummel’s faith in the Jayhawks does not stop with him picking them to be the last team standing at the end of the Big Dance.

Hummel also pegged KU senior Devonte’ Graham as his pick for national player of the year AND Bill Self as his coach of the year.

We won’t know for months if either of those predictions — or any of the others — will come true, but we will officially get the race under way at 8 p.m. tonight, when KU hosts Tennessee State in the season opener for both teams.