Is Kansas vulnerable without Embiid? 

March, 15, 2014
Mar 15
4:22
PM ET
Joel EmbiidBo Rader/Wichita Eagle/MCT/Getty ImagesKansas freshman center Joel Embiid is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his back.
Kansas lost again Friday night. That’s nine times this season for a team that, until Friday, was competing for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. That speaks both to the challenging schedule it has faced and the lack of deserving top seeds this season.

The Jayhawks’ two most recent losses, though, are the most interesting because they came without Joel Embiid. As the Jayhawks head into the NCAA tournament without the services of their freshman center -- through the first weekend, at minimum -- there is no doubt that they are a different team. But the looming question is whether those losses are harbingers of a result to come early in the tourney. Is Kansas, sans Embiid, more vulnerable to a Giant-Killing upset?

It sure would seem that way. But that’s why we rely on a dispassionate statistical model -- it even refused to party on Pi Day -- rather than our own eyes.