Kansas Jayhawks: NCAA Tournament Team Preview

Kansas Jayhawks

University of Kansas Jayhawks (2 Seed, South Bracket)

Record: 24-9 (14-4 Big 12)

Coach: Bill Self

Tournament Berth:  At Large Bid

Big Wins: Duke, Iowa State, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State

Big Loses: Villanova, Florida, Colorado, San Diego State, West Virginia, Kansas State

The Jayhawks entered their 2013-14 campaign with a #5 preseason ranking and a roster full of the nation’s most talented incoming freshman, including 6-8 G Andrew Wiggins, 7-0 C Joel Embiid, and 6-5 G Wayne Selden Jr. But a promising win over then #4 Duke and a five-game winning streak soon gave way to a slide and Kansas would drop three of its next four, leading many to question whether the team had enough chemistry to maximize the potential of its budding stars. The Jayhawks rebounded nicely to win their next three, highlighted by a 22-point rout of Georgetown, before losing their non-conference finale at home to San Diego State and closing the non-conference slate at 9-4.

This season’s conference offering was a carbon copy of the nine before it for Kansas as they dominated the Big 12 en route to a 10th straight regular season title. The Jayhawks won seven consecutive in convincing fashion before dropping their first in an 81-69 loss at Texas and finishing the Big 12 slate by winning 5 of their final eight for a conference finish of 14-4.

Team Leaders

POINTS

PPG

FG%

FT%

3PT%

Andrew Wiggins

17.4

.449

.768

.350

Perry Ellis

13.6

.557

.771

.500

REBOUNDS

REB

OFF

DEF

BPG

Joel Embiid

8.1

2.3

5.8

2.6

Perry Ellis

6.5

2.0

4.5

0.6

ASSISTS

APG

SPG

TO

AST/TO

Naadir Tharpe

5.2

0.7

2.0

2.6

Wayne Selden Jr.

2.5

0.7

1.9

1.3

 

Starting Five

F – Tarik Black

F – Perry Ellis

G – Andrew Wiggins

G – Wayne Selden, Jr.

G – Naadir Tharpe

Who’s Hot:  With the uncertainty of big man Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins has had to shoulder the load, which isn’t always a good thing. Wiggins is undoubtedly a next-level talent, but in the mold of a Kobe Bryant or a LeBron James, when the game’s on the line, it’s a given that he’ll put it up and put it up often. In the regular season finale against West Virginia, Wiggins dropped a career-high 41 points, but the Jayhawks still lost the game. Regardless, though, Wiggins is the centerpiece and Kansas can only go as far as he can take them that day.

Who’s Not: As important as Wiggins is to the Jayhawks’ success, without Embiid, Tharpe is a close second. In KU’s last three losses, Tharpe had a combined 11 points and 14 asists, including a bagel against West Virginia. He’s not even a third or fourth scoring option, but when he’s creating, Kansas is at its best.

Outlook: It’s tough to say how far this team can go without knowing if and when Joel Embiid returns. It’s been reported that he’ll be back by the Sweet 16, but this team has been so inconsistent without him, just making it there looks like a tall order. The freshman big man missed five games this season and Kansas went 3-2 without him. Not a bad tally, until you breakdown the particulars. In the loss to West Virginia, Mountaineer big man Devi Williams dominated the low post with 22 points and 13 rebounds. In the loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 conference semi-final, the Jayhawks had no answer for Cyclones center Georges Niang, and he finished with 25 points. In short, survive, advance and hope for Embiid’s healthy return.

Commentary by Rick Sarlat

Sources:

Sporting News

ESPN

 

 

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