NCAA March Madness Preview – Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas Jayhawks

Big 12 (28-4, 16-2)

by Joel Welser

Since their trip to the national championship game in 2012, Kansas had failed to live up to their lofty expectations during the NCAA Tournament. Trips to the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eights are great for most programs, but it is disappointing for the Jayhawks. Last season KU lost to Villanova in the Reginal Finals and this group will hope to take the next step to the Final Four.

Big Wins: 11/15 vs Duke (77-75), 1/28 at Kentucky (79-73), 2/18 at Baylor (67-65)

Bad Losses: 11/11 vs Indiana (99-103), 2/4 Iowa State (89-92), 3/9 vs TCU (82-85)

Coach: Bill Self

Why They Can Surprise:

The Jayhawks have four superb scoring options on the perimeter. Senior Frank Mason III leads the way with 20.8 points per game and dishes out a team high 5.1 assists. Not many players can attack the basket as effectively as Mason, but he also is amazingly consistent shooting from beyond the arc. Devonte’ Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk are not as consistent shooting the ball as Mason, but both are very dangerous from long range.

Josh Jackson is a big 6-8 freshman who averages 16.4 points, 3.1 assists and 7.2 rebounds. Jackson is not a great shooter, but opposing defenders have a very tough time dealing with his size and speed. Jackson’s size and rebounding ability are a big reason the Jayhawks are so strong on the glass. Landen Lucas, a 6-10 center, leads the team with 8.4 rebounds per game. Lucas does not get many opportunities to be a dominating scoring threat in the paint, but he can score when needed.

Why They Can Disappoint:

Kansas does not have many flaws, but there are a few that have led to losses this season. The most noticeable is the team’s three-point shooting defense. In the overtime home loss to Iowa State, the Cyclones connected on 18-of-34 three-pointers. Those are tough numbers even for Kansas to overcome. The Jayhawks also committed 21 turnovers in that contest, compared to just 11 for Iowa State. When Kansas loses the turnover battle and allows a lot of three-pointers, they will be in a close game. And this is not a team that wants to be in close games due to their poor free-throw shooting. Mason and Graham are the only consistent free-throw shooters in the starting five.

Probable Starters:

Frank Mason III, Senior, Guard, 20.8 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.1 rpg

Devonte’ Graham, Junior, Guard, 13.1 ppg, 4.3 apg

Josh Jackson, Freshman, Guard, 16.4 ppg, 3.1 apg, 7.2 rpg, 1.0 bpg

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Junior, Guard, 9.6 ppg, 1.3 apg

Landen Lucas, Senior, Center, 7.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg

Key Role Players:

Carlton Bragg, Sophomore, Forward, 5.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg

Lagerald Vick, Sophomore, Guard, 7.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 82.7 (18th in nation, 3rd in conference)

Scoring Defense: 72.0 (174, 8)

Field-Goal Percentage: 48.8 (14, 1)

Field-Goal Defense: 41.7 (68, 2)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.7 (69, 3)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 40.8 (6, 1)

Free-Throw Percentage: 66.0 (293, 9)

Rebound Margin: 4.3 (52, 2)

Assists Per Game: 16.3 (27, 3)

Turnovers Per Game: 13.0 (164, 4)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2016    NCAA Round of 64 win over Austin Peay

2016    NCAA Round of 32 win over Connecticut

2016    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Maryland

2016    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Villanova

2015    NCAA Round of 64 win over New Mexico State

2015    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Wichita State

2014    NCAA Round of 64 win over Eastern Kentucky

2014    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Stanford

2013    NCAA Round of 64 win over Western Kentucky

2013    NCAA Round of 32 win over North Carolina

2013    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Michigan

2012    NCAA Round of 64 win over Detroit

2012    NCAA Round of 32 win over Purdue

2012    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over North Carolina State

2012    NCAA Regional Final win over North Carolina

2012    NCAA National Semifinal win over Ohio State

2012    NCAA National Final loss to Kentucky

2011    NCAA Round of 64 win over Boston U

2011    NCAA Round of 32 win over Illinois

2011    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Richmond

2011    NCAA Regional Final loss to VCU

2010    NCAA Round of 64 win over Lehigh

2010    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Northern Iowa

2009    NCAA Round of 64 win over North Dakota State

2009    NCAA Round of 32 win over Dayton

2009    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Michigan State

2008    NCAA Round of 64 win over Portland State

2008    NCAA Round of 32 win over UNLV

2008    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Villanova

2008    NCAA Regional Final win over Davidson

2008    NCAA National Semifinal win over North Carolina

2008    NCAA National Final win over Memphis

2007    NCAA Round of 64 win over Niagara

2007    NCAA Round of 32 win over Kentucky

2007    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Southern Illinois

2007    NCAA Regional Final loss to UCLA

*all team stats through 3/5

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