Kansas is already a No. 1 seed in our latest NBC NCAA Tournament projections so, following the Jayhawks’ 73-63 win over Texas on Saturday night, the logical question arises: Is No. 3 Kansas in line to cut down the nets in New Orleans?
First, the vital details:
-In what was arguably the toughest conference in the country, the Jayhawks won the Big 12 by two games.
-Along the way, they beat Baylor twice, Missouri, and Ohio State.
-They’ve got National Player of the Year Candidate Thomas Robinson, who is averaging nearly 18 points and 12 rebounds.
But how can they put it all together?
Tyshawn Taylor has found himself since mid-January, only having one game with over four turnovers, and was big on Senior Night, Saturday, with 22 points and four assists.
Making his way from being one of the most oft-criticized players in the country earlier in the season, Taylor’s increased basketball security is part of the reason the Jayhawks are on their way to a top seed in the NCAA Tournament.
More importantly, though, are Kansas’ weaknesses. Having sat near the top of the conference and national polls all season, some softer spots of the Jayhawk attack haven’t always shown.
The biggest critique of Bill Self’s team has been their short bench. Kansas runs with a seven- or eight-man rotation, with Kevin Young and Justin Wesley averaging 10 minutes per game.
That shows up most prominently at the guard position. Outside of Taylor, Elijah Johnson and Conner Teahan are the Jayhawks’ best options, but freshman Naadir Tharpe has struggled in his first season.
Also, which Jeff Withey will show up in March? Will we see the monster who averaged over 20 points and 10 rebounds for a stretch of the conference schedule, or will we see the big man who struggled against Missouri?
When Withey is a legitimate second option on the block, Kansas’ offense runs much smoother, as defenses aren’t able to focus solely on Robinson and collapse on him in the paint.
Am I splitting hairs? When breaking down No. 1 seed, sometimes it can feel like it.