With little to prove to the selection committee, KU’s main priority is simple in theory. Rest.
With the Jayhawks already dominating the Big 12 Awards, they enter the Sprint Center this week with nothing to gain but the potential to lose. Championship Week for Kansas is essentially Week 17 in the NFL for a playoff team. Kansas may solidify or marginally weaken their seed argument but the only true consequence is the possibility of injury.
Devonte’ Graham, the unanimous Big 12 Player of the Year, has averaged 37.4 minutes this season, never seeing the bench for rest in 15 games. Outside of the opening round, Graham will likely not see much relief in the NCAA tournament. The longevity of the star senior should be the main focus. Given the unpredictable nature of March Madness, it will serve Kansas well to utilize a deep rotation in the Big 12 tourney and give younger, less experienced players more minutes.
Similarly, Kansas fans have grown accustomed to commentators pointing out Udoka Azubuike’s look of fatigue late in games. Having never played this late in the year at the collegiate level and averaging double his minutes from his short freshman season, the Big 12 tournament is the perfect opportunity for Silvio De Sousa to get the start over Udoka and continue to blossom. With opponents trying to draw Azubuike into foul trouble, De Sousa will need to be ready to produce valuable minutes for Kansas to make a run.
While no one would characterize this team as deep, the Jayhawks just need to keep up appearances in Kansas City to stay in the one-seed conversation. The local KU basketball community should enjoy the atmosphere of the Power & Light District and hope to see Marcus Garrett and Silvio De Sousa logging considerable minutes.