Andrew Wiggins has been impressive down the stretch, including becoming more assertive. But! ... Joel Embiid and his "back spasms," with the actual original diagnosis of a stress fracture in his back having been confirmed, is expected to be out until the Sweet 16 round.
And, the bottom line is that Kansas lost to an unranked team in the regular season finale, Wiggins' 41 aside. And, they lost
to a slightly lower Iowa State team in the tourney semis. Yes, they've
played a tough sked, and yes, Embiid is still out. But, that's precisely
the point. He may not be back even in time for the Sweet 16. So, I
think the Jayhawks are now a No. 3.
And, I'm shocked that tournament predictors disagree. As a fan, I'm pleased they're a No. 2,
even if arguably in the toughest bracket; as a detached college basketball follower, I disagree.
I wouldn't be totally shocked if they fell to a No. 4 seed, even.
And, March 16, they stay a No. 2,
even if arguably in the toughest bracket. That's even though CBS' Jeff Borzello says that, without Embiid, they're not a top-10 team, which means they should be a No. 3 seed at best.)
I mean, I'm with Gary Parrish on loving the idea of a Wichita State-Kansas final; I know Shockers fans would be, too. But, I just don't see it happening.
NCAA tourney aside, I think this is more confirmation that Wiggins is maturing,
becoming assertive, and hence, probably is indeed a one-and-done. He's
also pushing back ahead of Jabari Parker and others for a possible No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, and Riggin for Wiggins! I know Parker was named freshman of the year on the NCAA's all-freshman team; I still think Riggins has the higher NBA upside.
Embiid? I think he might be better served by waiting a year. The back
problems may drive his stock down a bit, even if, as shown with Nerlens Noel this year and Greg Oden just a few years ago, NBA teams, under the "you can't coach height" rubric, will draft centers with injury histories. Plus,
especially if Wiggins does leave this year, Embiid has a chance of
showcasing more of his offense in Lawrence next year.