Monday Notebook: It’s Champ Week!

1. Well that was some top level trash right there 

Kansas laid an absolute egg on Saturday, getting smashed by Oklahoma State 82-64. You could tell from the beginning of the day that the Jayhawks didn’t have too much interest in competing for this game. They were very sloppy and didn’t play defense very well. Devonte’ Graham played well (sarcastic gasp), scoring 15 points and dishing out eight assists. Of course Graham played well, that’s a given. No one else did and that’s why Kansas lost. Graham was the only Jayhawk to have more than eight points. He was also the only Jayhawk to hit more than one three. This game literally didn’t matter one bit as far as the Big 12 was concerned. The conference was wrapped up before this but as far as the NCAA Tournament goes, this was a bad loss. KU had a one seed all but locked up but after that embarrassment it’s a little more up in the air. Duke and Xavier probably have better cases for one seeds heading into their conference tournaments but if Kansas wins the Big 12 tournament then they will most likely be on the one line.

2. Devonte’ Graham is the Big 12 Player of the Year

We all knew this was coming. Trae Young played like an actual human being for the last few weeks, opening the door for Graham, who played his best basketball of the season on the biggest stage and single-handedly beat Texas Tech for the Big 12 title. Graham has averaged 17.6 points per game this year, 7.2 assists per game, and is shooting 42% from three. He’s had an amazing year. This is the second year in a row that Kansas has produced the Big 12 Player of the Year, with Frank Mason winning the award last season. There have been comparisons made between Graham and Mason, so let’s take a look at Mason’s numbers last season. In his senior season, Mason averaged 20.9 points, 5.2 assists per game, and shot 47% from three. Mason had the better senior year. It’s not super close, either. And that’s not to take away from Graham, because he’s been fantastic, but he hasn’t been Frank Mason fantastic. However, it wasn’t fair for us to compare these two players in the first place, because they are very different players. Graham is a shooter; Mason took it to the cup. One area where both men are equally impressive is their leadership. Kansas hasn’t had leaders this good since Sherron Collins. Congratulations to Devonte’ on this award, now it’s time to get to business.

3. My end-of-season Final Four

It’s tournament time baby so let’s go through some Final Four predictions

#1 Virginia: They don’t let other teams score. That’s usually a good way to win basketball games. Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome are the Cavaliers’ best players. My only concern for UVA is that if somebody comes along that can beat their defense, I don’t know if Virginia can put up enough points to win that game.

#2 Duke: The Blue Devils have Marvin Bagley, Wendell Carter, Grayson Allen, and Gary Trent. That’s good enough to win yourself a title. They can score in bunches, too. I know RCB gives Duke a lot of crap for being ESPN’s favorite team but they are a legitimate title threat and as explosive as anybody in the country.

#3 Villanova: The word that describes Nova is fundamental. They’re so dangerous because they do everything well, especially on offense. The Wildcat defense is probably their biggest flaw but not so much that it takes them out of the running for a title. Jalen Brunson probably should be the player of the year and Mikeal Bridges shouldn’t be too far behind him.

#4 Kansas: Is this a homer pick? Pretty much. Can it happen? Absolutely. We all saw how well the Jayhawks played in the games before Oklahoma State. We know they have it in them. Devonte Graham is as cold blooded as anybody in America and Udoka Azubuike has shown flashes of dominance this season. Kansas can do it guys.

4. CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT WEEK IS UPON US

Let’s. Go. I like this time of year better than Christmas. There I said it. Christmas doesn’t have upsets. We all know that Aunt Mary got Billy some socks and that Uncle Dave is going to eat far too much ham. But we didn’t know that Rutgers was going to win two games in the Big Ten tournament now, did we? Is Oklahoma State going to beat Kansas? (No, but I mean it could happen). So sit back and enjoy the madness that is March.

Landen Fields is a contributor for Rock Chalk Blog. You can check out his archive here.

Landen Fields

I’m a junior in high school. I’m also homeschooled, which gives me the ability to watch ESPN all day. I love the Jayhawks, and I love to write about them. I’m also a huge fan of Star Wars, Marvel, and action/sci-fi movies. I hope to have a career in sports media one day, and I am grateful for this first step into a larger world.