Posts Tagged March Madness

Episode 74 – The Postseason is Here

Posted on: March 9th, 2015 by jayhawktalk No Comments

Postseason basketball has arrived. The Jayhawks had a big week starting with an incredible comeback win against West Virginia to clinch the outright Big 12 title and then followed it up with a great game and effort in Norman without Perry, Brannen, and Cliff. The guys get together to talk about all of those things plus an update on Cliff, preview of the Big 12 Tournament in KC, and a look ahead at the Big Dance.

Come on in, grab a beer and let’s talk some postseason basketball. ROCK CHALK!

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Photo Credit: USA Today

Episode 53 – NCAA Tourney Preview (Part 2 of 2)

Posted on: March 18th, 2014 by jayhawktalk No Comments

In Part 2 of the Jayhawk Talk NCAA Tourney Preview Podcast, the guys dive a little deeper into the competition, giving you a full scouting report on the St. Louis pod teams, including Eastern Kentucky (KU’s first opponent), and potential opponents New Mexico and Stanford (should KU win Friday). Short interviews are also conducted with three media members representing each team, giving you a great inside view of the competition. So come on in, grab a beer, and listen to a little Jayhawk Talk Podcast — postseason edition!

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Photo Credit: Chris Graythen, Gamedayr

Is this KU’s year?

Posted on: March 17th, 2014 by jayhawktalk No Comments

Editor’s Note: I began writing the “Is this KU’s year” post in March 2008. Ever since then, I have authored a similar piece in hope that it works the same way it worked in 2008. Find the original post on my old CJ Online Hawkzone page here if you’d like to reminisce. 

It seems just about every March you hear someone around these parts say that this could be “KU’s year.” You might even hear some reasoning behind this assertion. In any given year, it might go something like this…

They just have a complete team. They are battle tested. They have all the intangibles. There are no holes on this squad. They have tournament guards. This is the seniors’ last chance. They’re focused on the prize.

Blah blah blah blah blah.

No matter what Andy Katz or Jay Bilas or Seth Davis or your co-worker at the water jug will tell you, this tournament is not decided by a measure of those kinds of htings. If it were, KU would have more than three national championship banners hanging in the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse, and, most likely, ’88 would not be among them.

Instead, this tournament is decided by players making plays. It is decided by hunger, sweat, intensity, drive, and guts. Upsets happen this time of year because a team’s will can often overcome a team’s talent. Your school may not have five McDonald’s All-Americans but it can still box out, out-hustle, and out-prepare another group of 18-22 year-olds. Coaches and players like to think that these are the factors that can control in a tournament, and it’s true. If a team embodies these qualities and has the talent to compete, it can dance for a long time.

But then there are those things a coach and team cannot control, but most still overcome to reach a championship. First, there is the bracket and venue. The term “neutral floor” is thrown around so often in college basketball without any real basis. Playing UCLA in its back yard for a chance to go to the Final Four might come to mind. Perhaps playing a Championship game in Kemper Arena also rings a bell. Then there is luck. KU would much rather see Dayton or Western Michigan in Memphis than Syracuse or Ohio State. A Final Four matchup against Saint Joe’s sure beats one against Michigan State, no matter how much America is behind the underdog.

But that’s the great part about this tournament. There are so many unknowns, and there is always room for a Cinderella to make a miracle run. KU knows all too well, both on the giving and receiving ends. The unknowns make CBS executives pony up billions to keep it on their network. The unknowns make the office bracket pools so damn fun. The unknowns give those #10-#16 seeds a reason to ask the “what if?” question.

Can you blame them?

This has been an interesting year in college basketball. A team projected to go 40-0 by many of its fans finds itself on the #8 seed line. Two of Vegas’ three favorites are #4 seeds. Wichita State is a #1 seed for crying out loud. The madness is looming, and your bracket is already wrong.

So back to the original assertion. Is it KU’s year?

I don’t know. But I do know that the Jayhawks will have the best player (or players) on the court in nearly every game. I know the Jayhawks have the talent to beat any team in the field on any given night. And what’s more, it won’t require perfection to do so. It will simply require Kansas controlling those factors it can control and playing its own game.

Just six games of playing well and controlling what it can control. KU does that, and anything can happen.

I guess we’re about to find out.


Episode 52 – NCAA Tourney Preview (Part 1 of 2)

Posted on: March 17th, 2014 by jayhawktalk No Comments

The bracket is finally out. We know where we are going and who we are playing. We will be bringing you more information about KU’s competition with our preview podcast coming out tomorrow, but we wanted to do a quick podcast giving you our instant reactions to the bracket. That is this.

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Photo Credit: Gamedayr

Episode 51 – Big 12 Tournament Preview, Big 12 Awards, March Madness

Posted on: March 10th, 2014 by jayhawktalk No Comments

Credit: Wash Post

The guys get together to talk some POSTSEASON HOOPS! That’s right. It’s tournament time, and regardless of what happened in Morgantown this week, our spirits aren’t down. How can they be? It’s beautiful outside, KU is the #1 seed in the Big 12 Tourney, and the Madness is upon us!

We talk a little WVU recap, give out our own version of the All-Big 12 Awards, and preview the Big 12 Tournament with our good friend, Brian Hanni. We predict the games, give you some stories of the tournament, and look ahead to March Madness.

So come on in, grab a beer, and enjoy yourself a little POSTSEASON Jayhawk Talk Podcast. Rock Chalk!

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Photo Credit: USA Today

Episode 49 – Big 12 Champs, OU, Texas, Power Rankings, and a little Madness

Posted on: February 26th, 2014 by jayhawktalk No Comments

After a huge week of hoops, the guys get together to talk Big 12 Champ10nships, Texas, OU, and the potential for a #1 seed in the tourney. They are also joined by KC Star’s Rustin Dodd to help them go go power rank the 10 Bill Self Big 12 Championship winning teams. Come on in, grab a beer, and enjoy a little Jayhawk Talk Podcast!

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Thanks and ROCK CHALK!

Photo Credit: Kansan

Jayhawk Talk Podcast – Episode 22 (Season Recap, Preview 2014, Nut Taps, Rio, and DWTS)

Posted on: April 6th, 2013 by jayhawktalk No Comments

The guys are back after a short (coping) hiatus to talk about the 2013 year that was and start previewing the 2014 season. They talk nut taps, Dancing With the Stars, Tailgating, Anrio Adams TransferGate, Andrew Wiggins, Wedding Gifts, and more. Come on in, have a beer, and join us for the Jayhawk Talk Podcast. Cheers.

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As always, if you’re into such things, please rate us 5 stars and leave a comment on iTunes. It helps us get the word out about the podcast. Rock Chalk!

There is more to a championship team than “guard play”

Posted on: March 28th, 2013 by jayhawktalk 1 Comment

“Guard play wins NCAA championships.”

If you’ve been around college basketball long enough, you’ve heard this old adage. It’s a very easy (read: lazy) way to attempt to understand what a team will need in order to weave its way through the madness of March and emerge victorious in April. Pundits gravitate toward it even more once the smoke of the first weekend subsides — when all that’s left is a pool of legitimate contenders.

Pundits are pundits for a reason. They are usually very capable at breaking down and analyzing a team’s makeup and then will use this analysis to help handicap and predict the team’s chances versus another team. When comparing a team against the field, however, assumptions must be made. This is when we get into the lazy adages.

This particular adage is drawn from a number of assumptions. It is first based on the premise that the tournament normally ends up coming down to guys that can create — not only for themselves but for their teammates. It assumes that the guy with the ball has the power to both make or break you. It assumes that you can game plan and strategize against a post threat, but it’s much harder to take a guard out of the game. It assumes that if you’re faced with a must-make situation, everything starts with the guard. To an extent it also assumes defense doesn’t matter.

That’s all well and good, but I ask that you allow me to introduce you to a couple of gentlemen you might have heard of. Their names are Danny and Anthony.

Danny was not a guard. He was 6’10. His height and skill set propelled him to one of the most impressive performances of all time in an NCAA tournament game — 31 points, 18 rebounds, 5 steals, and 2 blocked shots against OU in the 1988 Championship Game. This was no fluke. His teammates might have earned the moniker, “the Miracles,” but he was just Danny. And he was good. Darn good.

And Danny wasn’t a guard.

Anthony flew slightly lower under the radar in his MVP Championship Game performance (at least as low as he could for a 6’11 guy with a mustache above his eyes). He didn’t score 31 points. In fact, he went 1-10 from the field with six points. How does a guy with 6 points win MVP of college basketball’s most important game? Size. Effort. Rebounding. Defense. He had 16 rebounds, 6 blocks, 5 assists, and 3 steals. Not to mention the plays that didn’t show up in a box score.

I chose two examples that I thought would hit closest to home for KU fans. These are not the only instances of big guys leading their teams to NCAA championships.

Let’s fast forward to the present. KU will be facing off against a Michigan team on Friday that probably has the best guard tandem in the country. Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Trey Burke are probably better than some recent tourney tandems that come to mind too — Juan Dixon and Steve Blake of Maryland, Jay Williams and Chris Duhon of Duke, Charlie Bell and Mateen Cleaves of Michigan State.

If guard play is, in fact, the best measure of success, then Kansas is in trouble.

But there’s one little thing the pundits don’t seem to want to talk about. Something that isn’t near as flashy or sexy as scoring guards.

There are 5 guys on the other bench wearing crimson and blue that take more pride in guarding than they do in scoring.

And this is dangerous.

Michigan destroyed the media’s darling in VCU — a team that some pundits said had the “best defense in the country.” This is a farce. They were the best trapping team in the country. Trapping and defense are not the same thing.

Michigan guards were salivating at the idea of facing a trapping VCU team. Much like Kansas guards were salivating at the idea of facing Mike Anderson’s UAB team in the 2004 regional semifinals. “40 minutes of hell” can be a double edged sword if you face guards that can break it. Michigan broke VCU’s 1-2-1-1 zone press with ease.

But they will not break Kansas.

The difference is that Kansas plays smothering man-to-man defense — a defense designed to take advantage of individual athleticism but has just as much of a team element as any zone defense. It is also a defense that, when run correctly, will rarely give up an uncontested basket. Last, it is a defense that is based 100% on effort, energy, and most importantly, pride.

With four senior starters and a freshman fifth unlikely to return, KU’s effort, energy and pride ought to be at an all-time high. I imagine it will result in a defense Michigan has never seen before.

Unlike VCU, Kansas doesn’t have to turn teams over to be successful. It only needs to pressure them into bad shots and then crash the hell out of the boards. This is KU’s bread and butter. And while it isn’t nearly as exciting to talk about, I believe it will prove far more important on Friday than any old adage about guard play.

When faced against top 10 defenses this year, Michigan was 2-4. And not one of those six teams included a shot blocker of any merit.

Withey may not be the next in line to be mentioned in the same sentence as Anthony and Danny. But I do believe his play is just as likely as any guard to be the reason that Kansas advances on Friday.

Stick with an adage that works.

Keep calm and Rock Chalk.



Jayhawk Talk Podcast – Michigan Preview with Brady McCollough

Posted on: March 28th, 2013 by jayhawktalk No Comments

Brady McCollough joins Kevin and Andrew for some Michigan preview talk. The guys also talk Dunk City, Cinderellas, tournament surprises, and chalk brackets. Come on in, grab a beer, and enjoy some Jayhawk Talk Podcast.

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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