The No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks (28-3, 16-2 Big 12) will kick off postseason play on Thursday afternoon at the Sprint Center when they take on the TCU Horned Frogs. As usual, these two programs met twice in the regular season with KU taking both games, 86-80 in Fort Worth and 87-68 in Allen Fieldhouse, which clinched KU’s 13th consecutive Big 12 crown. Kansas will be without the services of freshman wing Josh Jackson, who was issued a one game suspension by head coach Bill Self for a traffic incident that occurred back in early February.
TCU comes into the matchup as winners over Oklahoma in the 8 vs. 9 first-round matchup. They thumped the Sooners 82-63. The Horned Frogs still have an outside shot of making the NCAA Tournament, and a win over the the No. 1 team in the country will certainly strengthen their case. Expect TCU to give KU their best shot.
When: Thursday, March 9th, 2017, 1:30pm CDT (will be closer to 2:00 pm)
Where: Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO
How to Watch: ESPN2 or WatchESPN
December 30, 2016 – Fort Worth, TX
No. 3 Kansas 86 – TCU 80
TCU’s Vladimir Brodziansky scored a game high 28 points and hauled in nine boards, but it wasn’t enough for the Horned Frogs. TCU would play the Jayhawks close throughout the second half, but the game was never in danger of slipping away from KU. Senior guard Frank Mason scored a team high 22 points and dished out seven assists. Senior forward Landen Lucas pulled down 17 boards and chipped in 15 points.
February 22, 2017 – Lawrence, KS
No. 3 Kansas 87 – TCU 68
The Jayhawks clinched their 13th straight Big 12 title with a win over TCU. The Horned Frogs played the Jayhawks close in the first half, only trailing by one at the break. The second half was a different story as KU used a 22-8 run to distance themselves and cruise to one of their easier victories. Mason led the charge with 20 points, and was 4-6 from long range. Freshman wing Josh Jackson had a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds. Sophomore forward Carlton Bragg Jr. provided a spark off the bench with 15 points, seven boards and three blocks in 22 minutes.
Horned Frog to Watch
Vladimir Brodziansky – 6’11”, Junior, Forward
Brodziansky went off for a career high of 28 points in the first matchup, and the Horned Frogs gave KU a fight. In the ensuing matchup, he was rather ineffective as he scored eight points and four rebounds, so it was no surprise TCU got waxed by 20. On Wednesday night vs. OU, Brodziansky scored a game high 20 points on 10-13 shooting. He also hauled in seven boards.
The Jayhawks need to keep him in check if they hope for an outcome similar to the second meeting. Kansas’ backcourt is far superior to TCU’s, so if they can mitigate the edge they have in Brodziansky, we should see Kansas run away with this one.
Matchup to Watch
KU’s front court vs. Vladamir Brodziansky
Landen Lucas should fare well against Brodziansky, but when Lucas it will be critical how well KU’s backups can guard him. Carlton Bragg has had trouble this season guarding guys bigger than him, but he played well last time out against TCU. Expect Dwight Coleby to get a look as well.
Keys to Victory
- Who’s going to step up in place for Josh Jackson?: Self has already stated that sophomore guard Lagerald Vick will start in place of Jackson, so he’s a candidate to step up. The guy I’d really like to see elevate his play is junior wing Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. Svi has been struggling of late (averaging just 4.6 PPG over his last eight games). It would be real nice to get him going into the tournament.
- Stay out of foul trouble: With Jackson, KU was already thin. Without him, they are extremely thin. Vick, Svi, Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham will need to stay out on the floor.
- Hit outside shots: If you’ve read any of my previous previews for RCB, you know I frequently have this as a key to victory. In KU’s victory over TCU at Allen Fieldhouse, the Jayhawks shot 10-23 from long range.
Kansas 81 – TCU 73
TCU is desperately in need for a marquee win, which makes me believe they’ll give KU everything they can handle. Ultimately though, with this game being in Kansas City and Kansas just honestly being the better team, they’ll have enough to overcome the absence of Josh Jackson. I like Mason and Graham to carry the load here.