The familiar absence of a preseason tournament for the Kansas Jayhawks has kept KU's record unblemished, while many other highly ranked teams bruise each other up in preseason tournaments.
The Jayhawks haven't played in a preseason tournament since the 06-07 season, in which they won the Las Vegas Invitational which was just a four-team tournament. The Jayhawks dispatched the then No.1 ranked Florida Gators 82-80 in overtime to claim the tournament victory.
The past two years they have played in tournament formatted competition, but neither competition can really be labeled a true preseason tournament in my mind. Invitationals that stretch the span of nearly two weeks aren't really tournaments.
What qualifies as a preseason tournament aside, the Jayhawks absence from one this year, coupled with the fact that their once tough-looking schedule for this preseason is starting to look a bit more modest.
Their upcoming December 6 game against UCLA at Pauley Pavillion now looks like it will be an absolute walkover, after UCLA lost its last three (all in this past weekends preseason tournament in Anaheim, CA).
Michigan, who also sits at a bruised 3-2 record following consecutive defeats in its preseason tournament this past weekend, looks like they might struggle to keep the game at Allen Fieldhouse on December 19 close.
California, who visits the Jayhawks just a game after the Wolverines come to Lawrence, suffered consecutive and very exposing losses in their preseason tournament a couple of weeks ago. They'll have to play their best game of the season to contend with the Jayhawks.
KU must travel to Philly to take on Temple a day after New Year's, but the Owls are currently averaging 61 points per game while KU allows less than 60. To beat this Kansas team, you either have to hold them under 70 because you will not beat them in the 70s, 80s, or 90s.
The preseason for the Jayhawks concludes with a trip to Knoxville to face Bruce Pearl's Volunteers. Tennessee has two grade-A games on their schedule, they already lost the first one to Purdue in Knoxville. The Vols like to beat teams in the 70s and 80s, so that may still be the Jayhawks biggest challenge.
While this season's schedule had been on paper well before the first tip off, Bill Self and his Jayhawks have done themselves a service by not appearing in any of the many preseason tournaments.
The Jayhawks absence from one of these tournaments, may come with some flack from some analysts, but as far as I can tell, it's a smart move.
First, the Jayhawks scheduled tough in the wake of not being in one of the tournaments.
Second, their absence has allowed the team to gel. By playing a bunch of cupcakes with the close win against Memphis sandwiched in between them, Kansas has started to form its identity.
After what should be an absolute trouncing of Alcorn State this Wednesday, the Jayhawks will be an unblemished 6-0 heading into Saturday's clash with UCLA.
The game in LA will be followed by two more cupcakes before Kansas hosts Michigan and Cal in consecutive contests.
If my feelings about this Jayhawk team are correct and they rarely are not, Kansas could very well be 11-0 after the game against Cal.
Think about all of it like this: If Kansas had played in a preseason tournament, played well and won whatever tournament they were participating in, there would be more articles written about how Xavier Henry is going to be Freshman of the Year and how Sherron and Cole are the greatest one-two punch in the country.
In all likelihood, too many of those press clippings would be overly read and Kansas may have gotten to high on itself, just high enough to slip up against a Michigan or a Cal.
Now I am not saying that would happen for sure, but Kansas' absence from a preseason tournament has really allowed them to beat up on their cupcakes and stay out of the limelight that is always associated with these tournaments.
In the process, the Jayhawks have been able to crush their cupcakes and grind out a win that really helped build some needed character.
On the flipside, many of the Jayhawks' opponents down the road elected to play in preseason tournaments and ended up paying the price.