Here are a few summaries of what’s going on with Kansas Athletics this week, March 13:
1. Kansas loses to TCU in Big 12 Quarters, 85-82
I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about it by now, but KU did indeed lose to TCU a couple days ago. The ‘Hawks defense was suspect yet again, but they were without a really good defender in Josh Jackson. That’s truly what this comes down to. If Jackson would’ve played, KU would’ve won the game and we wouldn’t be talking about whether or not they have what it takes to win a title. They absolutely do have what it takes, and, they will be fine. Do they have stuff to work on? Yes, absolutely they do. But who doesn’t? This loss will give guys like Frank Mason (who dropped 29 points and six assists in this one), Devonte’ Graham, Landen Lucas, and Josh Jackson an entire week of rest, and it may even give them a little extra motivation headed into the Big Dance.
Ok, enough about this game. It’s tournament time, baby! Let’s take a look at that bracket!
2. KU gets the #1 seed in the Midwest Region
Personally, I think the Midwest is the most difficult region. If you disagree that’s fine. But let’s break down the possible road to the Final Four for the Jayhawks.
Their first game will be against one of two 16-seeds, either North Carolina Central or UC Davis. I’m not even going to say anything about this game due to my superstitious side. If Kansas gets by their #16 seed, they will play either Miami or Michigan State. Both of those teams are very solid, even if they’ve had their struggles this year. More on them later.
The two most likely Sweet 16 matchups would be No. 5 Iowa State or No. 4 Purdue. KU could easily win or lose to either of those teams. Purdue has size, but Iowa State can shoot the three ball at a high clip (as KU found out in the two teams’ most recent meeting). If the ‘Hawks can march all the way to the Elite Eight, the #2 seed they would face is Louisville. The Cardinals are really good, and they are one of the few teams that has a legitimate chance to win the NCAA title. A KU-Louisville matchup would be a lot of fun – two blue blood schools battling for a chance to go to the Final Four. That being said, I am rooting for all of the upsets.
3. The best First Round games on paper
Midwest Region: #7 Michigan vs. #10 Oklahoma State. There are going to be a lot of points in this game. So many threes. Derrick Walton Jr. is averaging an even 15 points for a hot Michigan team heading into the tourney, and if you’ve paid any attention to the Big 12 this year, you know all about sophomore guard Jawun Evans. He lit up the conference this season averaging 19 points and six assists. There may not be a better guard matchup in the first round. Prediction: U of M 85, OSU 80.
South Region: #7 Dayton vs. #10 Wichita State. Wait! Wichita State’s a 10?!! Just a second while I write my annual letter of protest to the Selection Committee!
Ok, I’m back. Wichita is mind bogglingly under seeded here, but Dayton is a strong mid-major team and it won’t be put away easily. However, I feel very strongly about who is going to win this one, so I won’t elaborate. Prediction: Wichita State 63, Dayton 50.
South Region: #5 Minnesota vs. #12 Middle Tennessee State. In the sexiest upset bid of the tournament, the Blue Raiders will try to topple a Big Ten team in the first round for the second straight tournament. Minnesota is a good team, no doubt, but even if they win this game, I’m not sure they’ll go any farther. Middle Tennessee was worse and beat a better team in Michigan State in the tournament last year. Prediction: MTSU 64, Minnesota 59.
Midwest Region: #8 Miami vs. #9 Michigan State. Very intriguing game here. Both teams have talent, but I think the deciding factor will be Michigan State’s Miles Bridges. If Miami can guard him, I think they win. Miami also plays in a better (much better this year) conference. But you can never count out Tom Izzo in March. It’s a very tough call for me. Prediction: Sparty 61, Miami 57.
4. My Final Four predictions
I’ve got Villanova taking down Duke in the East final, and Kansas defeating Oregon for a trip to Glendale. As for the South Region, I say UCLA inches out North Carolina to play the Jayhawks. And last but not least, Arizona gets some revenge on Gonzaga.
So that leaves me with Arizona vs. Villanova and Kansas vs. UCLA as the matchups in the Final Four. I think both of these would be great games. I also think Villanova and Kansas would be destined to meet if this happened (oh and Kansas would win this time).
Landen Fields is a contributor for Rock Chalk Blog. You can check out his archive here.