Conference: Big 12
Record: 30-4 (15-3)
NCAA Tournament Seed: 1 (South)
How they got to the big dance
Kansas would be in the tournament and would most likely be a top seed even if they lost in the Big 12 conference tournament. The Jayhawks are ranked first in the country in RPI and are ranked 10th in strength of schedule — playing in the best conference in the country helps them out there. They have wins against No. 22 Baylor (3), No. 6 Oklahoma (2), No. 9 West Virginia (2), No. 23 Texas (2), No. 21 Iowa State, No. 16 Kentucky, Vanderbilt and San Diego State. They have losses against Iowa State, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Michigan State, although it’s worth noting that Kansas was without freshman forward Check Diallo against MSU. Kansas began the Big 12 conference tournament with an 85-63 rout of Kansas State in the quarterfinals. The Jayhawks followed that up with four-point victory against Baylor in the semifinals, before handily beating West Virginia in the title game to secure their 26th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.
Why they are a legitimate contender
Ever since kenpom.com began recording advanced statistics in 2002, the NCAA Champion has averaged an adjusted offensive efficiency ranking of 7.2 and an adjusted defensive efficiency rating of 9.8. This year, just two teams fall close to those averages: Kansas (eighth offensive, fifth defensive) and Virginia (seventh, fourth). The Jayhawks also shoot very well from behind the 3-point arc. They are ranked third in the country with an insane 42.2 percent mark from three. They shoot the ball well as a whole, too. Kansas ranks sixth in field goal percentage with a 48.9 percent shooting percentage, while allowing only 40 percent of its opponents shots to go in. If that’s not enough to convince you Kansas is a legitimate contender, every starter on Bill Self’s team has NCAA tournament experience, so they know what to expect from March Madness.
Why they are not a legitimate contender
Most teams that are on upset alert usually don’t shoot free throws well and turn the ball over a lot. Kansas does both. The Jayhawks are 156th in the country with 12.5 turnovers per game and shoot 70.6 percent from the free-throw line, which is 147th in the country. Kansas won’t win games from the charity stripe, either. They make about 16 free throws per game, while allowing opponents to make 15.4 free throws per game. The Jayhawks also aren’t a great offensive rebounding team. A lot of their missed shots will result in one-and-done possessions. Kansas ranks 160th in the NCAA in offensive rebounds, pulling in only 9.2 offensive boards per game. The Jayhawks’ defensive statistics are nothing to get concerned about, but they aren’t great either, so don’t be surprised if KU gets into a shoot-out with some teams in the tournament.
Player to watch: F Perry Ellis
The 6-8 senior is arguably Kansas’ best all-around player. He scores 16.7 points per game for the Jayhawks while pulling in 5.9 rebounds per game. Ellis also shoots the ball extremely well. He shoots 52.3 percent from the field and 43.3 percent from behind the 3-point arc, while making a less impressive 78.5 percent of his free throws. The former McDonald’s All-American will be hungry this March as he tries to bring Kansas to their first Final Four appearance in his four-year career as a Jayhawk.
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