This is the time of year that all coaches, broadcasters and office bracket-pool participants say the same words ad nauseum: “It’s not about the seedings in the tournament. It’s all about the match-ups.”
In reality, that doesn’t really apply to relatively balanced basketball teams such as Kansas University’s. For example, was Missouri a good match-up or a bad match-up for KU?
Well, for a stretch starting with the final 2:04 of the Columbia game and ending with 10:50 left in the Lawrence game, it appeared to be an awful match-up. Missouri won that 31:14 stretch, 78-51. For the remaining 15:50, it looked like a terrific match-up for Kansas, which outscored the Tigers 36-19 during that memorable stretch.
Kansas is even better inside than on the perimeter, but point guard Tyshawn Taylor is one of the best in the nation, so it’s not as if the Jayhawks are particularly vulnerable to any one style. In the case of KU, the most significant match-up pits the players vs. their mirrors.
A confident and humble Kansas is capable of competing against any team in the country. A confident and vain Kansas is capable of stinking up the joint against any NCAA Tournament-caliber squad.
A confident and humble Kansas adheres to the scouting report. A confident and vain Kansas thinks it can win on sheer talent.
Asked to speak to what type of teams make for good and bad match-ups for KU, Taylor responded in a manner that all his teammates should embrace.
“I think any match-up can be a bad match-up for us if we aren’t rebounding the ball or we aren’t tuned in defensively,” Taylor said. “We know any team can beat us if we aren’t a good defensive team. A good match-up for us would be any team who plays us when we are playing well.”
Confident yet humble words.
“Like I said, I think if we prepare like we want to win and like we are an underdog, almost, I think it is going to be hard to beat us,” Taylor said.
For the Jayhawks, the seed just might mean more than the match-up. A No. 1 seed four of the past five years, Kansas enters as a No. 2 this time.
“I think the last couple of years, when we were a No. 1 seed, we felt like we had to win it,” Taylor said. “I feel the same way this year, but I don’t feel like it is on us as much. I don’t think anybody is going to call us failures or say that we let them down or we choked or whatever it might be.”
Winning an eighth consecutive Big 12 championship killed any chance of being labeled failures by a reasonable person.