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Everybody's an expert — Some predict deep Kansas March run; others, not so much

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins takes off with a steal from Oklahoma State forward Kamari Murphy during the first half on Thursday, March 13, 2014 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins takes off with a steal from Oklahoma State forward Kamari Murphy during the first half on Thursday, March 13, 2014 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. by Nick Krug

This time of year, everybody seems to have an opinion about the NCAA tournament — and a bracket (or two or three) to go with it.

Who will go to the Final Four? Who will lose in the first round? Oh, it's called the second round now? Right.

If you can manage to pull yourself away from your bracket for a few minutes, you'll want to see what some of the experts think about Kansas University's chances during March Madness.

Due to the ultimate X-factor — how healthy is freshman center Joel Embiid? — chasms exist between the opinions of some.

Check out the abundant tournament chatter.

• The Sunflower State might have to shut down on April 7, if CBSsports.com's Gary Parrish is right.

Parrish thinks both Kansas and Wichita State will make it to the Final Four, and meet in the national championship game.

His winner: The Shockers.

The CBS site provides full brackets from 10 of its experts. Both Matt Norlander and Gregg Doyel chose Kansas to win it all.

• In a list of Sports Illustrated writers' Final Four picks, none of the four featured contributors picked Kansas to reach Jerry World, in Arlington, Texas, the destination all 68 teams are shooting for.

In fact, Luke Winn, Seth Davis, Brian Hamilton and Pete Thamel all picked No. 1 seed Florida to come out of the South. What's more, all four had the Gators as national champions.

The feature includes links to the complete brackets from each writer.

• Dick Vitale is rolling with the Gators, too.

Vitale likes Florida out of the South region, to be joined by Michigan State, Louisville and Arizona in the Final Four.

But Vitale is picking Michigan State to top Louisville in the title game.

• ESPN.com listed the Final Four picks from some of its other contributors, and only one of five had Kansas winning its region.

While Eamonn Brennan, C.L. Brown, Andy Katz and Myron Medcalf all had Florida advancing out of the South, Dana O'Neil went with Kansas.

All five picked Arizona out of the West, and four out of five picked Louisville out of the Midwest.

• Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News ranked every team in the field, No. 1 through No. 68, based on "perceived ability to win the championship — involving seeding, bracket placement, pro-level talent, efficacy at both ends of the court."

Using those parameters, he placed Kansas at No. 4, behind Arizona, Michigan State and Florida (a potential Elite Eight opponent for Kansas in the South region).

• According to SI.com's Hamilton, Kansas is the best No. 2 seed in the field (assuming Embiid is healthy at some point).

KU isn't the only team from the South Hamilton considers the best on its line. Others: No. 1 Florida, No. 7 New Mexico, No. 12 Stephen F. Austin and No. 13 Tulsa.

• In a list of 16 observations about this year's tournament, Troy Machir had a couple interesting Kansas-related tidbits for SportingNews.com.

Kansas has made the tournament for 25 consecutive seasons, the best active streak. Second is Duke at 18, while Michigan State is third, with 17.

Also, a couple of '80s national champions as players will square off as coaches in the first round: Steve Alford played for Indiana's title team in 1987, and Danny Manning led KU to the 1988 championship. They'll face each other as head coaches in the South's No. 4 vs. No. 13 game: UCLA's Alford vs. Tulsa's Manning.

• ESPN.com writer Medcalf, who was in Kansas City, Mo., to cover the Big 12 Tournament, wrote a list of 10 bold tournament predictions.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden tries to maintain control of the ball as he is defended by New Mexico players Cameron Bairstow (41) and Hugh Greenwood (3) during the first half on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden tries to maintain control of the ball as he is defended by New Mexico players Cameron Bairstow (41) and Hugh Greenwood (3) during the first half on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Nick Krug

While some might be surprised he picked Iowa State to make the Final Four, he also thinks Kansas won't make it past the first weekend of The Big Dance.

"The Joel Embiid injury is a major problem for Kansas. Yes, the Jayhawks can still make a run without him. But that third-round matchup against a big New Mexico squad should be a concern."

• ESPN's Fran Fraschilla fielded tons of questions about the tournament, and answered a few about Kansas in the process.

None by Fran Fraschilla

None by Fran Fraschilla

None by Fran Fraschilla

None by Fran Fraschilla

None by Fran Fraschilla

Comments

Joe Ross 7 months, 2 weeks ago

There are many different ways this tournament could play out. Everything from Kansas losing in the second round to making the Final Four is on the table. I just hope when the dust has settled that I don't feel a strong desire to be a part of the movie Groundhog Day. Leastwise, I don't remember too many years where I've felt so pessimistic about our chances going into the tournament (an odd feeling considering how much optimism we all oozed in October, looking forward to Andrew Wiggins owning everyone). The losses--even knowing we are very young and that our schedule was very difficult--have certainly worked themselves into our collective conscience. I am old enough to remember the 1988 championship very well. That year, we suffered 10 losses. By comparison, this year we are slightly better at only 9. If Embiid can't go, he'll be this year's Archie Marshall. Danny and the Miracles...Mario's Miracle...

...perhaps the mantle falls upon Wiggins now to perform some heroic act of prestidigitation.

Championship or Bust!

Jason Keller 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I share your concern but I believe that Wiggins is going to show up like never before. Giving that freshman of the year award to Parker is the best thing that ever happened to Kansas.

Len Shaffer 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Actually we suffered 11 losses in '88, but close enough. And I believe that's still the record for most losses by a champion. Would this year's team be second if it won?

John Randall 7 months, 2 weeks ago

A couple came close or maybe exceeded 11. When BEast had all of final four, the sweater guy got past GTown w/Ewing. Vitale's NCSt when they took down Phi Slamma Jamma also was from nowhere.

Ryan Shelton 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I have an opinion and would like to share on the kusports.com tourney challenge, but I've had plenty of problems getting it to work. I tried it a few times on the ipad, but it wouldn't work at all, so I dusted off the pc and picked all the games, right up to the championship game. When I chose the winner, the tiebreaker box came up, but I couldn't click in the boxes to put in the scores.

Anyone else having trouble or know what to do?

Joe Ross 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I had the same problem with the tiebreaker scores. Sucks that you can't enter the challenge because of a glitch on the online form.

LKColt1 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I too have had that same problem each of the 3 times I tried entering a bracket. I made it to the championship game and it wouldn't let me enter in a final score and hit submit. Hopefully they get this glitch fixed!

Benton Smith 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Hey, thanks to all of you for posting about the glitch. We have contacted the vendor that runs the contest, so hopefully we'll have an answer for you soon.

Benton Smith 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Hey, good news. They had received a number of complaints about the issue and they say they have fixed it.

Go give it another try, and it should work this time.

Mark Lindrud 7 months, 2 weeks ago

My expert prediction. We will win at least one game and someone will win the NCAA Title. Mine is as good as the experts who get paid to tell us an east coast team will win almost every year.

Jonathan Allison 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Why'd it have to be Dana O'Niell to pick KU in the FF? It's kinda like how I really, really want uky to lose early but kinda expect them to finally put the pieces together for a FF run...

I hope that Parrish is right about KU and WSU meeting in the championship, but I don't think he'd be right in picking the winner.

Jeremy Wilhelm 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I kind of love that no one is picking KU this year - I feel like every year where everyone was touting KU, they have stumbled whereas you look at 2008, and all the money was on Memphis or UCLA, but I can't recall everyone being in love with KU. It's nice to fly under the radar and have something else to serve as the proverbial chip on the shoulder.

John Fitzgerald 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Billas was the only ESPN analyst that I remember picking KU in 2008. This year he has us in the Final Four. Never know ...

Mark Lindrud 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Could be the good Jay Bilas omen again lol. Get out your voodoo dolls

Bryan Mohr 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Hope they can run the gauntlet, but not picking KU past Syracuse in my Buffett Bracket.

In a close game (like ISU Big12 tourney) if our strategy is to have Greene driving to the basket like a mad-man when we have a potential #1 - #3 NBA draft prospect on our team I'm going to have real problems with the coaching staff.

Tom Richmond 7 months, 2 weeks ago

If Tharpe can play like Sherron and not EJ, we have a shot.

John Fitzgerald 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I think if our Defense shows energy and we disrupt the ball handlers we will have a chance. The best defenses cause turnovers because they're always in the way. This isn't a skill they have, they just know how to disrupt the offense. Every possession is win or lose. They score, you lose that possession. Turnover or they don't score, that's a win. I think our guys need to break it down to one possession at a time as opposed to one game at a time. In order for us to keep winning games, our defense has to start winning possessions.

Jack Jones 7 months, 2 weeks ago

One year-after-year trademark of a Bill Self KU team has been consistent, aggressive defense ~ a key element which has been missing this year ~ along with consistent offensive play by individual players ~ and, by extension, the team as a whole. I suspect the inconsistency is a direct result of the absolute lack of experience ~ obviously where all the incoming freshman are concerned,(the transition from HS to Big 12 D-1 quality basketball is huge, and rarely successful, with the exception of a handful of "superstar" players.) but, with the same being true (inexperience) of the few returning players ~ Ellis and Tharpe. It would appear that talent doesn't make up for inexperience ~ at least not in this instance. This team has the talent to make a decent run in the tournament (with Joel), but, will have to do something they haven't done all season ~ play consistent basketball on both ends, against other top-level teams.

Tony Bandle 7 months, 2 weeks ago

HOW KU WINS IN ST.LOUIS:

1] Tarik stays in the game.

2] Naadir is at least "mediocre" on defense. but hits some threes.

3] Andrew continues to show why he was the #1 recruit.

4] Takeways ounumber turnovers.

5] Last season's NCAA tourney Perry shows up.

6] Selden sizzles and the bench contributes.

HOW KU LOSES IN ST.LOUIS:

1] Tarik's butt is on the bench.

2] Naadir...well, you know....

3] Andrew disappears. [not likely....I hope].

4] More turnovers than a bakery.

5] Last season's NCAA Perry is no where to be found.

6] Selden Fizzles and the bench is a bystander.

Sam Constance 7 months, 2 weeks ago

The article notes that KU is the current active streak-holder for consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament.

What it doesn't note is that KU is only two seasons from matching North Carolina's all-time record at 27, and obviously three seasons from surpassing it. With the dominance of the Jayhawks under Self and the large tournament field, it's conceivable that we could really set a pretty astounding record for consecutive trips to the Big Dance.

As far as our chances this postseason...

I can remember us playing classic Bill Self defense twice this season. Against Texas in AFH (with Embiid) and in the first half against Oklahoma State in the Big 12 tournament (obviously without Embiid). Admittedly, that's a terribly small percentage of the time we've been on the court this season. Roughly 4.5% of the time, if you want to get specific. But the potential is there. Perhaps it being 'win or go home' time coupled with the lack of respect the Jayhawks are being shown by the national media (Jay Bilas notwithstanding) will be the motivation we need to get that kind of defensive effort out of this team more consistently. It doesn't even have to be 100% of the time. I think if we bring that defensive intensity HALF the time, we can make a deep run.

No matter what else happens, I can't wait for Friday to get here. The first (or next) game is always the most nerve-racking when you're a Kansas fan.

Joe Ross 7 months, 2 weeks ago

...and had we not incurred a postseason ban for the 89 season, our streak would be much longer. Kansas is clearly the most program in the nation.

Sam Constance 7 months, 2 weeks ago

While I agree with you about KU being the most (consistent? :-) program in the nation, I am skeptical that the 1988-89 team would have gotten an at-large bid had they been eligible.

They finished the season 19-12 with a losing record (6-8) in the Big 8. Our only chance to go dancing that year was by winning the Big 8 tourney, and we promptly laid an egg against eventual 6-seed Kansas State, who promptly got upset in their first round game by 11-seed Minnesota.

Joe Ross 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Excellent point. Although the postseason ban probably kept a couple of blue-chip recruits from choosing Kansas. Roy did have a few holdovers from the national championship team so I can't argue that the cupboard was bare. Probably had to do with the adjustment to a new style of basketball. Your argument is convincing.

Rodney Crain 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I love Nate Silver and on 538 he says there is a 42% chance we reach the elite 8 game playing Florida. He only gives us a 21% chance to win that game however. We have a 6% chance to win it all, FL has a 14% chance.

I would count our tournament as a giant success with an elite 8 game appearance. Against the #1 team I hope we could rise up and have a game like Texas at home this season, but we would need 3 of those in a row to win it all.

Regardless its nice to see someone who I admire have us going to so far in the tournament.

John Fitzgerald 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Nate Silver is a pretty smart dude. Wish my job was to create formulas and algorithms for sports. Id actually love going to work Lol

Rodney Crain 7 months, 2 weeks ago

He killed it in the last election, his book is a pretty good read too.

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