Posts Tagged Final Four

Episode 140 – Choose Your Own KU Basketball Adventure

Posted on: January 8th, 2019 by jayhawktalk No Comments

The fellas are back after a small break over the holidays. Since we last spoke, some shit has gone down and it has us a little bit concerned. But then again, we’re also a little bit confident things will turn around. And there’s an internal war going on to decide which side is right — (1) the sky is falling and (2) we’re en route to another championship season. So, in this podcast, we give equal weight to both sides of the KU fan base. You can choose your own KU adventure. If you’re in the sky-is-falling camp, we have a podcast for you. If you’re in the all-is-good camp, we have a podcast for you too. Choose your own KU adventure!

Find the podcast on iTunes HERE.

Find the podcast on Podbean HERE.

(We are also on Spotify and Stitcher and some other places if that’s more your flavor.)


Episode 133 – Final Four Preview

Posted on: March 29th, 2018 by jayhawktalk No Comments

The guys are back for a RECORD THIRD TIME IN ONE WEEK to talk about KU’s matchup on Saturday against Villanova in the FINAL FOUR. They briefly touch on the other side of the bracket but focus on keys to the game, talk about the lead-up to the game, discuss ways to prepare yourself for victory and the importance of superstitions.

Find the Podcast on iTunes HERE (Please do us a HUGE favor and leave a review/rating!)

Find the Podcast on Podbean HERE (non-Apple mobile devices)


Episode 131 – FINAL FOUR BABY

Posted on: March 26th, 2018 by jayhawktalk No Comments

The guys are back to talk about KU’s EPIC run to the Final Four, including beating Duke and ending Grayson Allen’s college career and making Coach K super sad and making all of us SUPER HAPPY. This is a total reaction podcast mere hours after the nets were cut down, so not a lot of structure, just a lot of EFF YEAH. Another pod will be coming later this week with more substance previewing the Final Four, but for now, come join us as we reflect on this awesome run and on this great season (SO FAR).

Find the Podcast on iTunes HERE.

Find the Podcast on Podbean HERE.


Episode 75 – NCAA Tournament Preview

Posted on: March 16th, 2015 by jayhawktalk No Comments

The NCAA Tournament is finally here. The guys get together to react to the Committee’s placement of KU as the #2 seed in the Midwest Region and the insane path that KU will have to take to get to that matchup with Kentucky in the Elite 8. There’s also a short recap of the Big 12 Tourney, a chat with New Mexico State reporter, Mark Rudi, and a look at KU’s pod — including that potential matchup with the Shockers.

Come on in, grab a beer, and enjoy a little Jayhawk Talk Podcast — Tourney edition!

Find the Podcast on iTunes HERE (please rate, review, and subscribe!)

Find the Podcast on Podbean HERE (non-Apple mobile devices)


2013-2014 KU basketball preview and predictions

Posted on: November 8th, 2013 by jayhawktalk No Comments

My favorite quote about predictors and prognosticators comes from former Kansas City Star columnist, Bill Vaughan. He wrote: ”The groundhog is like most prophets; it delivers its prediction then disappears.” I generally have the same feeling about sports handicapping and preseason predictions.

They’re all made by groundhogs.

So let’s get this out of the way. I’m not a handicapper. I’m a fan. But I also hold my team to a higher standard than just about anyone else because I want what is best for them. In short, I like to think I can make impartial predictions, and I am happy to stand by them for the season and beyond.

This is the third iteration of the Jayhawk Talk season predictions blog post. The 2011-12 and 2012-13 predictions are linked. In 2011, I predicted KU to be a #2 seed in UNC’s bracket. Also predicted T-Rob to go from a 7 and 6 guy to a 17 and 10 guy. Nailed those. In 2012, I predicted KU’s non-conference and conference records accurately and said Withey wins defensive player of the year easily. Nailed those too.

I also predicted Big 12 championships for those two years, but that isn’t much of a prediction these days.

To be fair, I missed a bunch of stuff too. Namely that OSU would be #2 behind KU in 2011 (7th) and that Perry Ellis would lead us in scoring last year early in the season (lost his starting job). But the misses aren’t any fun to talk about. The same goes for this intro.

Let’s get into the 2013-14 Jayhawks, shall we?

(1) This Wiggins Fella. Forget talking about the Big 12 season or postseason. No Kansas blog post would be complete without spending an exorbitant amount of time on Andrew Wiggins. My prediction? He has a terrific season. Every reasonable college basketball fan will praise his athleticism and impact on the game. But to many, he’ll be a disappointment. That’s because I think he’ll average something like 15.5 points, 5.5 boards, 2 blocks, and 3 assists. He’ll potentially affect the game more on defense than offense (I think he’ll lead the team in blocks). And his presence on the court alone will open up the offense in other places. In short, I think he’ll be a difference maker. Even if his stats don’t bear it out.

(2) Non-Conference Record.  There are 13 non-conference games with marquee matchups against Duke, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, and Georgetown. It is a ridiculously difficult schedule — one that will be nearly impossible to navigate without yielding a loss. My prediction is that KU ends up at 11-2, which I think most reasonable fans would take. Most likely losses include Duke and Florida. The good news is that the Big 12 season should be an easier slate than the non-conference season, leaving the possibility for a great tournament seed and very high ranking by the end of the year.

(3) Conference Record. KU has an enormous advantage over the Big 12 due to its ridiculous home court advantage. Barring injury, the Jayhawks will be favored in every game played at home. With a 9-0 head start on the league, the team only has to go 6-3 or better on the road to pretty much guarantee a share of the season title. I believe that will be the exact record at the end of the conference season, 15-3. Losses could occur @KSU, @ISU, @OSU, or @Baylor. I will say this… I don’t think TCU will be one of the losses for the second year in a row.

(4) Big 12 Champs. It’s impossible to predict any other team to win the Big 12 regular season title until it actually happens. And, well, I don’t think it’s going to happen this year. It’s not that KU is overwhelmingly better than teams like OSU, Baylor, or ISU. There are some really good players in the league this year. The difference is KU’s incredible home court advantage, Bill Self’s in-season coaching, and the general pedigree of winning these things. The only remaining question is how long it takes to see a picture of Self wearing all ten rings.

(5) Rotation. The rotation seems to be the hot button topic among KU diehards. For the first time in a long time, there is a ridiculous amount of depth on this KU team. We know the starters are going to be Ellis, Tharpe, Black, Wiggins, and Selden. What we don’t know is how deep Self will go on the bench. I predict the main rotation to include Embiid, Traylor, White, and Mason. That’s 9 guys. Rarely has a Bill Self team gone beyond 8 or 9, much less 10. As a result, I don’t think we’ll see a whole lot of Greene or Frankamp this season, except when the team needs a spark.

(6) Don’t forget about the veterans. This team has a great deal of hype, largely due to the best recruiting class Bill Self has ever brought to KU. Wiggins, Selden, and Embiid will all play a lot of minutes and will be a huge part of the success of the team. But even though KU returns no starters from the 2012-13 season, it does have legitimate veteran presence. Perry Ellis is a monster (more to come on that) and if the two exhibition games are any representation at all, Naadir Tharpe is a different player (15 assists, 0 turnovers). Jamari Traylor also has a role on this team (reports are that Self has been having him watch tape of Kevin Young to show him the type of energy he needs to bring to get minutes). In short, the vets will be just as important as the freshmen, especially early on when the lights are still bright.

(7) Perry Ellis. This is a bad, bad man. He may be quiet. He may not do anything flashy. But Perry is a true assassin with the basketball in his hands. The last third of the 2012-13 season was his coming out party, even if some fans expected to see it earlier. My prediction is that he will lead this team in scoring. Even over that Wiggins guy. Sure, Baylor’s Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson have been named Preseason All-Big 12 first teamers and Ellis was not on the list. I predict Ellis will force voters to remove one of these guys at the end of the season.

(8) Offense. I believe the normal Bill Self offense will be on display most of the time. In fact if you aren’t watching closely, it may seem similar to past years. You’ll still see the high-low motion. You’ll still see the same ball movement and inside-out attack. There will be a few differences, though. Self will most certainly install a “Wiggins Package” of plays, designed to get Andrew one-on-one against a single defender. The same can be said for Selden, though his plays may revolve more around posting up his (much smaller) defender. These two players are too valuable on the offensive end not to feature them in NBA-type isolation sets. It will be interesting to see how often these plays occur and how they assimilate into the overall offense. It is also worth noting that because of the team’s depth, there are multiple opportunities for mismatches on the offensive end that could change game to game. We have the low block banger bigs (Black, Jamari), the skilled and quicker bigs (Perry, Embiid), the jet off the bench (Mason), and the 3-point assassins (Greene, Frankamp, White). Depending on the defense, the game plan could change from game to game when it comes to the rotation.

(9) Defense. It is impossible to replace Jeff Withey. His impact on the defensive side of the ball was immeasurable. He allowed our guards to gamble a bit because the guards knew Withey was behind them scaring penetration away from the paint. This team will need to be much more sound when it comes to on-ball defense because there isn’t a bonafide rim protector in the paint this year. Through two exhibition games, you have probably heard Self mention more than once that on-ball defense is the area where the team could use the most improvement. The good news is the starters should, in theory, be great on-ball defenders. Tharpe was a bit of a liability on the defensive end last year, but hopefully he has improved. Wiggins and Selden are both so long and athletic that they should, in theory, be able to learn to play great defense. Black also provides a new dynamic on defense that we did not have before he transferred to KU. Remember how Perry got knocked around the block by bigger guys last year? That won’t be the case with Black. He is the one who knocks.

(10) Overall Record. For those math majors out there, I have predicted 11-2 for the non-con schedule and 15-3 for the conference slate. That’s a lovely 26-5 record, good for a #2 seed in the tourney.

(11) Tourney. Last year I said the Jayhawks were an “Elite 8 caliber” team. This year is different. While college basketball as a whole has some great teams this year, it’s hard to argue with the sentiment that this team has the talent to compete at the very highest level. Success in the tournament has so many variables, including luck of the draw, so it is often difficult to predict. That said, I think most KU fans would be disappointed not to make it out of the second weekend this year. KU ran into a buzz saw with Michigan last year. I predict this team has a little bit of luck and the Jayhawks reach the Final Four in Dallas. Dallas…an enormous KU alumni city.

From there, you never know what could happen.





Ode to the 2012-2013 Jayhawks

Posted on: April 2nd, 2013 by jayhawktalk 6 Comments

A disappointing end to an otherwise fantastic season.

It’s a tough life being a college basketball fan of a high major program. Every year, only one team goes home satisfied. 68 enter and 1 leaves with the ‘ship. It’s almost mean if you think about it.

Football has all those bowl games. A great season can end in an Orange Bowl victory. Hell, a great season can end in an Insight Bowl victory. Neither one of those is a national championship, but it’s still pretty cool.

But not basketball. Not at Kansas.

Success is unfortunately judged in terms of banners — and not just any banners. Sweet 16 banners aren’t interesting to us. Neither are Elite 8 banners, while we’re at it. Final Four or bust seems to be gauge of a successful season, which, if you think about it, just isn’t very fair.

31-6. Regular Season Conference Title. Conference Tournament Title. Those are absolutely incredible feats, especially when you couple them with the story line of nine straight (the most impressive streak in college basketball).

Yet, here we are. Moping about and telling ourselves it should be Kansas in the Final Four. Playing the sequences over and over again in our heads. Arriving at the same result every time… “How did it happen?” 

I don’t want to talk too much about the game because I’m sure you’ve talked about and read about and heard about it enough. There is plenty of blame to go around for the loss, and Bill Self is certainly not immune to it.

That’s not the point of this piece.

The point is that Kansas had another incredible season. A season that will be remembered for Ben McLemore’s dunks. A season that will be remembered for Kevin Young’s fro. A season that will be remembered for Travis’ defense and Perry’s growth and the Harlem Shake. A season that will be remembered for the “McLemore” dance and Elijah’s heroics in Ames. A season that will be remembered for Tharpe’s emergence as a point guard and Rio’s tweets and Self’s 500th. A season that will be remembered for the Withey Block Party and all the coaches’ sons. A season that will be remembered because we lost to TCU. A season that will be remembered because we beat K-State…thrice. A season that will be remembered for a team that started four seniors in the modern age of college basketball.

And, unfortunately, it will be remembered for the “nut tap” game — the head-scratching collapse in the Sweet 16 against an overmatched Michigan team that woke up and grossly outplayed Kansas the last few minutes. It will be remembered for Elijah’s turnovers and lack of killer instinct at the end of the game. It will also be remembered as another far-too-early-exit from the tournament.

But hopefully we remember those other things too. Because this group of guys deserves that much.

Rock Chalk and a fond farewell, 2012-2013 Jayhawks. You’ll forever be remembered by this Jayhawk fan.



Why Michigan is a good matchup for Kansas

Posted on: March 27th, 2013 by jayhawktalk No Comments

(Editor’s Note: The following is brought to you by JHT Contributor, @CrimsonBlueKU. Give him a follow on twitter for more KU insight. Rock Chalk!)

The Jayhawks will be arriving in Dallas Wednesday night as it prepares for Friday’s game against the Wolverines of Michigan.

Back in January when these two teams were ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the country (Michigan: 1, Kansas: 2), I thought this could be a potential Final Four matchup. Well, we’re seeing it in the Sweet 16 and I’m not complaining. We’re going to see Michigan’s potent offense against Kansas’ suffocating defense. It’s going to be fun.

I’m going to try and explain why this matchup is great for Kansas. Had this been Kansas/VCU Part Deux, I think it would have been a nightmare. VCU’s havoc defense would put a lot of pressure on KU’s guards and they’d force a lot of turnovers. Luckily, we don’t have to talk about that.

Michigan does a very good job of taking care of the basketball. It averages 9.3 turnovers a game — best in the nation. The Jayhawks don’t do a very good job turning teams over, forcing 12.7 per game (220th in the nation). Kansas on the other hand, as we all know, has a huge problem hanging on to the ball. Poor dribbling, bad passes, dumb mistakes. But Michigan forces less turnovers than Kansas. They don’t put heavy pressure on the guards, which is good for Elijah Johnson and Naadir Tharpe.

Both Michigan and Kansas shoot relatively well from deep, 38 percent and 36 percent, respectively, but the Wolverines take 34 percent of their shots from outside. Kansas will have to key on Tim Hardaway (43 percent of his shots come from outside) and Nik Stauskas (60 percent). I have a feeling Ben McLemore and Travis Releford can give them all sorts of fits.

Michigan’s All-American point guard Trey Burke is fantastic. He does a good job at creating his own shot off the dribble and he shoots better than 40 percent. He does a good job at taking care of the ball and distributing to his teammates.

Where Michigan struggles is inside. If you look at the roster, the Wolverines have size, but I think Withey, Young and Ellis will give Mitch McGary, Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford fits inside. McGary is just a freshman and he’s never seen a big like Withey. Morgan gives up four inches to Withey and  Horford doesn’t get many touches. Kansas blocks 23 percent of shots at the rim, whereas Michigan only blocks eight percent. Also, Michigan allows opponents to shoot 62 percent from close while Kansas holds teams to 51 percent.

If Michigan is going to beat Kansas, it’s going to be from outside, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Shooting in a dome, especially Jerry World is much different than shooting in a regular arena. Shooters use the ceiling as markers and domes have higher ceilings, which throws off depth perception.

Kansas is the 12th best rebounding team in the nation, while Michigan is 141st. If the Jayhawks can clean up the glass on the offensive end and score-second chance points, it’s going to be difficult for Michigan.

Kansas, as we all know, is defensively sound. They’re the best team in the nation in opponent’s field goal (35.7 percent) and effective field goal percentage (41.1 percent). If anything is going to give, I believe it will be Michigan’s offense, ranked No. 2 by KenPom (120.9 points per 100 possessions). We saw Michigan State’s defense, ranked No. 6  by KenPom (86.1 points allowed per 100 possessions) shut them down.

We’ve seen Kansas struggle on offense at times, but it’s 25th in the country scoring 74.9 points per game.

Kansas’ offensive and defensive KenPom numbers are similar to Michigan State: No. 5 on defense (85.4 points allowed per 100 possessions) and No. 31 on offense (111.2 points per 100 possessions). Michigan State’s offense is 21st (113 points/100).

Michigan’s defense gives up 92.5 points per 100 possessions. John Beilein does slow it down, but they can get out and run and they’re fantastic on the fast break.

If Kansas can take care of the ball, force Michigan to miss from deep and play this game in the paint, it has a very good chance of advancing to play Florida or Dunk City on Sunday.

Rock Chalk!

Kansas: 74
Michigan: 67


The Jayhawks that wouldn’t die

Posted on: April 3rd, 2012 by jayhawktalk No Comments

Editor’s Note: The following is submitted by @HailToOldKU, a guest blogger to Jayhawk-Talk. Follow him on Twitter at @HailToOldKU.

These were the Jayhawks that wouldn’t die.

Detroit led, for a brief moment there, and the Titans couldn’t be shrugged off after the wild events of that day. Then Purdue had Kansas on the ropes and trailing for 39 minutes and 15 seconds, but Elijah Johnson made the plays to get the Jayhawks onward. Then NC State threw a haymaker, and the Jayhawks took it off the jaw and kept punching.

And in the Final Four, Carolina ran a lineup of four (at least) future pros, all of them heading for the NBA this year, if the rumors of McAdoo’s departure are true. But they couldn’t do it. And Ohio State, too, landed a mighty blow early, doubling up the Jayhawks in the middle of the first half. But Jeff Withey’s stuff and the outlet to Tyshawn Taylor and Travis Releford’s lay-in made it nine at the break, and everybody started breathing easier, because these were the Jayhawks that wouldn’t die.

But they couldn’t afford that early lapse against Kentucky. They couldn’t go down early because Kentucky was too long and too quick and too flat-out good for Kansas to play anything shy of its A-game and expect to keep it close. So when Kentucky took a 10-point lead, and then an 18-point lead, and when it was 16 in the second half after a pair of Doron Lamb dagger threes, Kansas was done. It was over.

Except it wasn’t.

Because, down nine with less than four minutes remaining, the Jayhawks were still smiling.

”No one could tell us that we were going to lose except for the scoreboard,” Elijah Johnson told’s Jason King. “That was our mindset. We smiled and realized that hey, we only have four minutes left to play with each other. We said, ‘If they’re going to beat us, they’re going to remember us. They’re going to feel the last of us.’”

Thomas Robinson’s free throws made it seven. Kentucky answered with a three. Johnson answered right back. Robinson went back to the line and made it five with a minute-and-a-half to play.

The only people who didn’t think Kansas had a shot were those that had already turned off their televisions.

Kansas was making a run that mirrored so many of its games in this tournament, that mirrored also the last time Bill Self and John Calipari faced off in a national title game, when Self’s Jayhawks overcame a nine-point deficit with 2:12 to go.

But Kentucky was too good, as they have been all season. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist made the play of the season with an incredible block of a Taylor lay-in that would have made it a four point game with a little more than a minute to play

Then Marquis Teague went to the free throw line and did what another more highly touted freshman point guard of Calipari’s once failed to do. He hit two free throws. The lead was eight inside a minute. The fight didn’t leave the Jayhawks, but the game was over.

“The fight never stops with us guys,” Taylor said. “We just were fighting the whole game. We were right there. We were right there.”

“But they’re a great team.”

Too great on Monday. And the Jayhawks that wouldn’t die were finally finished.

KU can handle Sullinger

Posted on: March 30th, 2012 by jayhawktalk No Comments

The following is submitted by @HailToOldKU, a KU graduate and contributor to Jayhawk-Talk. He presents a different viewpoint on how Kansas will handle Ohio State’s front court than I did in my game preview here. Enjoy the read and debate on twitter which point is more accurate. Rock Chalk!

Almost two weeks ago, Robbie Hummel lit up Thomas Robinson. Hummel buried seven of his first eight shots en route to a 22-point first half that had Purdue up on the Jayhawks for all but 45 seconds of their second round game. Robinson, who was pulled off Hummel in the first half because he was getting so thoroughly thrashed, even admitted his weakness in guarding the perimeter, saying that Hummel could have gone for 40 on him, no sweat.

Obviously, Hummel didn’t, Kansas came back, and the Jayhawks are now in the Final Four. But there’s still plenty of reason for concern. Ohio State’s DeShaun Thomas plays a more inside-out game than Hummel – who essentially lives on the perimeter unless he’s got a favorable size matchup inside – but Thomas is still versatile enough to provide a serious matchup problem for Robinson.

This means a couple things. First, Jeff Withey, just like in the first game against Ohio State (which was, of course, sans Sullinger that day) will play only 20-25 minutes. Because of Robinson’s perimeter struggles, he’ll be forced to take Sullinger on the inside. Obviously Withey isn’t a perimeter defender either, which leaves him as the odd man out. Kevin Young played 24 minutes to Withey’s 21 in December. Expect them to play similar minutes again if Robinson doesn’t show early on that he can hold Thomas defensively.

Of course, if that’s the case, then we get to watch Robinson and Sullinger go head-to-head. I had been thinking for a few days that this wouldn’t happen because of Withey’s recent presence defensively. He’s pretty clearly going to be the guy on Sullinger every possession he’s on the floor, barring Self rolling out that triangle-and-two that was so effective in the second half against both Purdue and North Carolina.*

*This might be a great idea. It lets Withey and Robinson stay on the floor and, if it’s effectiveness against Hummel and Purdue is any indicator, it could nullify to some extent the inside-out dynamic that Thomas lends to the Buckeyes offense. One issue though: All five of Ohio State’s starters hit better than a third of their threes. If that’s not an effective zone breaker than I don’t know what is.

But for the sake of this argument, let’s assume the Jayhawks play man-to-man defense, like they have for 90 percent of the season. And let’s assume that Robinson struggles again to defend the perimeter, forcing him inside to guard Sullinger.

This could actually be a good thing for the Jayhawks.

For one, Kevin Young has developed from an occasionally solid spark off the bench to consistently the Jayhawks’ best bench option (arguably). His best performance of the year came against these same Buckeyes in the first mmeting, when he notched 14 points on eight shots, grabbed four boards and played serviceable defense in 24 minutes. It also gives Kansas a cushion should Sullinger bait Robinson into foul trouble. If Withey’s relegated to the bench, it would mean 40 minutes against either Robinson, whose ferocity on the offensive end negates any deficiencies defensively, or Withey, whose defense keeps opponents up at night. With Ohio State facing the same lack of depth as Kansas – they only go eight deep at most – Sullinger won’t be offered much rest on the floor.

The Jayhawks have already shown they can beat Ohio State without Sullinger on the floor. If they can effectively nullify him, it’s the best chance they have to earn a trip to the national title game.

KU, Ohio State preview

Posted on: March 30th, 2012 by jayhawktalk 1 Comment

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America

Date, Time, TV:

Saturday, March 31st, 7:49 PM, CBS


While these two teams have met previously, you can throw that game out the window. It was played in Allen Fieldhouse without Jared Sullinger and with a hurt Tyshawn Taylor. Not to mention both teams look radically different now than they did back in December. This is an entirely different matchup with so much more on the line.

On paper, the two teams match up nearly equally. It’s kind of eerie.

Both teams have an All-American post player – Robinson (17.7 PPG and Sullinger 17.6 PPG). Kansas is averaging 74.2 points to Ohio State’s 75.0. Kansas allows 61.6 points to Ohio State’s 59.7. Kansas averages 40.3 rebounds per game, and Ohio State gathers 39.6. Kansas dishes 15.2 assists per game to Ohio State’s 14.7. The teams have nearly identical FG%, 3-point FG%, and Free Throw % as well.

Ohio State will be seeking its second national championship (1960), while the Jayhawks will be looking for their fourth (1952, 1988, 2008).

Matchup of the game: Aaron Craft vs. Tyshawn Taylor

The marquee matchup everyone wants to talk about is Jared Sullinger vs. Thomas Robinson. While those two All-Americans may see some time battling against each other, I think it will be very limited unless fouls become an issue. Withey will get the first shot at Sullinger, which will allow Robinson to chase around the smaller DeShaun Thomas, who will play an inside-out game.

Meanwhile, Craft is a fiery defender and will most likely be facing Taylor all game. In the first matchup, Tyshawn was able to dish 13 assists, but he did have 7 turnovers. Six of those turnovers occurred while Craft was guarding him. While Craft is a very talented defensive player, he tends to gamble quite a bit. Sometimes that gamble turns into 4 or 5 steals. Sometimes it gets him in trouble.

Everyone says Craft is the best on-ball defender in the country. He hasn’t faced a point guard like Tyshawn very many times though. If Taylor plays under control and is able to knock down a jumper or two early to keep Craft honest, I really like him in this matchup.

Keys to the game for Kansas:

(1) Stay out of foul trouble. Sullinger is one of the best in the nation at drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line. As we have seen all year, this team is not deep and it will desperately need the services of both Withey and Robinson to win this game. Those two must stay out of foul trouble.

(2) KU can’t be satisfied. The Jayhawks proved a lot of doubters wrong with their Final Four run this year. It’s a huge relief for the coaches too, because getting to a Final Four validates your year so much more than a league championship and an Elite 8 (which is idiotic, but in some eyes, it is accurate). Now that they have made it, the attitude must remain the same. If you think about it, the hard part (getting here) is already out of the way. Now it’s time to finish it off.

(3) Maintain the same toughness that has carried this team all year. Be aggressive in the paint and get to the foul line. Similar to Kansas, the Buckeyes don’t have a very deep bench. Forcing a couple early fouls would be a great way to make some space in the paint. On defense, dial up the pressure without fouling. Throw some hip checks on rebounds, elbow up down low. Show Ohio State what you showed UNC that second half and see if they respond the same way the Tar Heels did.

Keys to the game for Ohio State:

(1) William Buford will have to wake up and make some shots. While he has been the most consistent three-point threat on the team this year (the Buckeyes only shoot 33% from three as a team), he has disappeared in the tournament so far. He will need to make shots to keep Kansas honest. Part of that honesty will also keep Kansas from using the “triangle-and-two” zone defense it has used the last two games with some success. Craft and DeShaun Thomas command a man on them at all times. If Buford is a threat, the Jayhawks won’t be able to make the switch.

(2) Take the ball right at Withey and Robinson. Don’t even think about offensive fouls. You have to go right at both of these guys if you’re Ohio State. That goes for the guards and the bigs. You can’t settle for jump shots against KU, especially since Ohio State has not been a dynamic shooting team from outside the paint all year. Force help from Withey or Robinson as often as you can, because that is usually when fouls occur. Also, if Robinson gets 1 or 2 fouls in the first half, take it at him even more. He’ll more than likely get out of your way in an attempt to avoid more foul trouble.

(3) Sullinger will need a Sullinger type game of 17 and 10 to match Robinson’s similar output. The difference will be in the supporting cast. DeShaun Thomas will need to keep his run of good games going. Craft will have to create extra possessions and will need to keep finding his teammates in a position to score. And the entire team will have to match the toughness the Jayhawks will likely throw at them.


Ohio State -2.5; O/U 137


I think the game will be close throughout, but it will come down to who can make big shots late in the game. Somehow, some way, the Jayhawks have made it this far in the tournament. It hasn’t been pretty, but they have demonstrated an ability to win games in a variety of ways. Whether it was matching UNC’s 47 point first half output when they seemingly couldn’t miss, or grinding it out when nothing went right against Purdue, they have shown a ton of fight. They have also had a knack for getting shots to fall at the most opportune times.

I am not going to bet against them in this matchup either.

KU 71 OSU 67