On Big Monday this week, Kansas manhandled Baylor. In the first half, Kansas shot 79.3 percent from the field. Kansas hasn’t had that accurate of a half since they shot 85 percent against Missouri in Jan. 19, 1991.
It was Kansas’ most impressive win of the year and probably the most impressive half in all of college basketball this season. It wasn’t a fluke, either. This proved what a couple of sportswriters have been saying all year: Kansas’ best performance is better than any other team’s best in the country.
Does that mean Kansas will win the National Championship? Probably not. Every team has their off nights. Kansas got outrebounded a couple days earlier by Nebraska, 43-32.
Right now there are four legitimate contenders, in my eyes, for the Final Four: Kansas, Ohio State, Duke and Pittsburgh. The Buckeyes and Jayhawks are undefeated while Pitt and Duke have had won loss each. Three of these four teams both rank in the top ten in the Pomeroy ratings for both adjusted offense and defense.
As a side note, I’m very impressed with Roy Williams’ North Carolina team. Despite having five losses, their adjusted defense ranks in the top 10. Since 2003, any team that has had a top 20 adjusted defense at UNC has had 30+ wins. If they get their offense together, they could easily go 23-7 in the regular season and make the tournament.
In adjusted offense, Pitt ranks #1, Ohio State #2, Duke #6 and Kansas #10. In adjusted defense, Kansas is #2, Duke #4, Ohio State #8 and Pitt #36. Pitt’s problem is their defense. However, they have had a tough schedule (second to Duke of these four teams). Their biggest issue is forcing turnovers as they are 301st in the nation in turnover percentage and 311st in the nation in steal percentage. However, they don’t really turn the ball over. They rank 33rd in the country in offensive turnovers.
Other than adjusted offensive and defense, which we’ve already discussed, Kansas also is top ten in the following KenPom categories: effective field goal percentage (offense and defense), three-point defense, and two-point offense.
The two biggest areas that KU needs to improve on (which, they steadily have all season already) is turning the ball over and free throw percentage.
When KU won the National Championship in 2008, Kansas was 61st in the nation in turnover percentage 117th in the country in free throw percentage. This season, Kansas ranks 122nd in turnover percentage and 226th in free throw percentage.
The biggest game of the season comes for Kansas on Saturday as they take on No. 10 Texas at home. Kansas has only lost once to a Big 12 South team in Allen Fieldhouse since the Big 12 was put together in 1996. The only team to do that was Texas A&M, who was the last team to beat KU in Allen Fieldhouse in 2007.
I believe Kansas keeps that streak going on Saturday.
Loss Watch: Kansas’ schedule is favorable for a Big 12 league championship again. They face the three strongest Big 12 South teams at home (Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State). I believe these games, along with home games against Missouri and Kansas State, will be wins. At Nebraska and at Missouri are the biggest threats to an undefeated conference season.
18-0: For the second time in Bill Self’s Kansas tenure, the Jayhawks are 18-0. Six times has this happened in KU history. Self joins Roy Williams and Phog Allen as the only coaches in KU history to start 18-0. All three of them did it two times each.
Season — Start — Finish — Result
1908-09 19-0 ; 25-31 — No NCAA tournament
1935-36 21-0 ; 21-2 — No NCAA tournament
1989-90 19-0 ; 30-5 —2nd round tournament loss to UCLA.
1996-97 22-0 ; 34-2 — Sweet 16 loss to eventual champion, Arizona.
2007-08 20-0 ; 37-3 — National Champion
2010-11 18-0 ; To Be Decided