Priorities for Kansas in the Sweet 16

Emerging out of the upset-plagued opening rounds, KU’s road to the Final Four shifts to Omaha for the Sweet 16.

While many top seeds were bounced early in the first two rounds, the Midwest region still boasts blue blood power with KU and Duke. As the pressure continues to mount in the Sweet 16, Kansas will need to improve upon their performance against Seton Hall to eliminate the Clemson Tigers.

Stay Out of Foul Trouble

A key priority all year long, the Jayhawks will need Udoka Azubuike to minimize his fouls if they want to advance to the Elite Eight. With a plus-minus of plus-21 against Seton Hall, Azubuike is the type of difference-maker that KU must be able to rely on going forward. As the Division-I leader in field goal percentage, Azubuike’s presence allows the Jayhawks to find reliable offensive productivity down low and opens up the floor for KU’s guards. With Clemson’s tallest player, Elijah Thomas, measuring at three inches shorter than Azubuike, Udoka should be able to serve as a catalyst if he can stay on the floor.

Align Guard Performances

Against the Pirates, Malik Newman led all scorers with 28 points, while Svi Mykhailiuk added 16 and Lagerald Vick contributed 13 points. Devonte’ Graham had a team-high nine assists, but he only scored eight points on Saturday. In order to defeat opponents with more talent, Graham and Newman must coordinate their efforts rather than trading dominant performances as they did in the opening rounds of March Madness. Keep an eye out for senior guard Gabe DeVoe who contributed 22 points, five assists and five defensive rebounds in Clemson’s second-round victory.

Bench Productivity

Now deeper in the tournament, KU will need more from their role players. Silvio De Sousa and Marcus Garrett combined for just four points on Saturday. With Azubuike still recovering from the knee injury he suffered earlier this month, De Sousa may see greater minutes than anticipated on Friday. When given the opportunity for more playing time, De Sousa has shined in his nearly fourth-month-old collegiate career. Garrett scored only two points against the Pirates, but he was able to secure five rebounds in his 15 minutes of play. Kansas needs Garrett to continue his rebounding efforts and improve his offensive productivity so KU’s starting guards can receive critical rest.  In their blowout win over Auburn, the Tigers’ bench produced 15 points.

Sage Morander

Proud KU marketing alum spreading the rock chalk chant throughout the east coast. Sucker for a good quality crying Jordan meme and forever wishing KU football will return to its 2008 glory. Outside of KU sports, you can find me hopelessly pulling for my Phoenix Suns and praying Joe Flacco becomes elite.