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Cram Session

Kentucky has the pressure, but will it make a difference? Plus, predictions for the NCAA championship game

Jesse Newell: Welcome back to the GameDay Cram Session, as Kansas is taking on Kentucky on Monday night in the national championship game at the Superdome in New Orleans.

Matt, KU comes into this game as a clear underdog. How do you think the Jayhawks dealt with that label during their time with reporters Sunday?

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson, second from left, smiles as he and teammates Travis Releford, left, Tyshawn Taylor and Jeff Withey respond to questions during a press conference on Sunday, April 1, 2012 at the Superdome.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson, second from left, smiles as he and teammates Travis Releford, left, Tyshawn Taylor and Jeff Withey respond to questions during a press conference on Sunday, April 1, 2012 at the Superdome. by Nick Krug

Matt Tait: In a word? Perfectly. I think they had the perfect blend of respect and confidence and they made it very clear that they believe they can play with Kentucky. That goes for everyone from head coach Bill Self, who flashed that "aw shucks" shrug when saying "I like our guys," right after telling everyone how incredible Kentucky is. Tyshawn Taylor followed, Thomas Robinson did, too. These guys are ready for this showdown and, to quote Tyshawn, "We have to defend, we have to be tough, rebound the ball, and we have to get good shots. I think if we do that, take care of the ball, limit their transition, I think we're right in the ballgame."

JN: Yeah, it is a thin line to walk. You have to give your opponent credit, but at the same time, show enough confidence so that you don't sound like you're scared.

I thought KU pulled it off pretty well. And it was a rare role for the Jayhawks, who were almost trying to throw all the pressure onto the Wildcats.

Tyshawn Taylor said UK probably had the best seven-man rotation in the nation. KU coach Bill Self said Kentucky should be favored in the game if you look at talent alone.

Kansas head coach Bill Self takes questions during a press conference on Sunday, April 1, 2012 at the Superdome.

Kansas head coach Bill Self takes questions during a press conference on Sunday, April 1, 2012 at the Superdome. by Nick Krug

The weight of expectations is on the Wildcats. And the heat, whether he'll admit it or not, is on Kentucky coach John Calipari, who has yet to win a title and also is haunted by Self and the free-throw ghost of 2008.

As Self would say, KU is the hunter and not the hunted in this game. We should see if that makes any difference in the first four minutes.

Matt, what's something interesting you learned about Kentucky from being in their locker room Sunday?

MT: Despite the fact that the Wildcats start three freshmen and two sophomores, they don't believe that they are a young team.

Kentucky head coach John Calipari responds to a question about his thougts on meeting Bill Self and the Jayhawks again in the national title game during a press conference on Sunday, April 1, 2012 at the Superdome.

Kentucky head coach John Calipari responds to a question about his thougts on meeting Bill Self and the Jayhawks again in the national title game during a press conference on Sunday, April 1, 2012 at the Superdome. by Nick Krug

For one, their lineup is full of supremely talented players who, though young by NCAA standards, have played plenty of big-time basketball in their lives, be it AAU ball or during their short time at Kentucky. Calipari made sure to emphasize that point whenever possible and also reminded people that there are a few players on his team that played in the Final Four last season.

One other thing that I found interesting Sunday was just how impressive both coaches were. That's probably no surprise and it certainly shouldn't be, but still, on the biggest stage possible, on the eve of one of the biggest games of their lives, both Bill Self and John Calipari were incredibly relaxed and owned the room while talking on the podium. That's just one of the reasons they're two of the best in the business, but it's a big one.

JN: From Kansas' interviews, I thought what guard Elijah Johnson had to say was interesting.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson smiles as the team and head coach Bill Self sit during a press conference on Sunday, April 1, 2012 at the Superdome.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson smiles as the team and head coach Bill Self sit during a press conference on Sunday, April 1, 2012 at the Superdome. by Nick Krug

First, he talked at length about the first KU-UK game — a 75-65 Wildcats victory on Nov. 15 — saying he couldn't believe the speed in that game. He also mentioned how KU played like a rec-ball team on that day, and said that Tyshawn Taylor needed to take most of the shots because he was the only one that had been in that kind of big-time environment. At that point, Johnson said, KU wasn't a team yet.

The junior also said something that stood out about KU's offense, commenting that the Jayhawks were at their best when they turned down two good shots on a possession to get a great one.

That strategy would definitely make sense against Kentucky. The Wildcats hardly force any turnovers (297th nationally in turnover percentage), and they also thrive in transition off opponents' quick shots.

Patience offensively could be a big key for KU, which had just nine assists in its first game against UK.

OK, Matt, what's your prediction for this game?

MT: Call me crazy — I know many people will — but I'm taking Kansas.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson hangs on the rim after a dunk over Kentucky forward Anthony Davis during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson hangs on the rim after a dunk over Kentucky forward Anthony Davis during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York. by Nick Krug

I don't know if that's because I actually think the Jayhawks are going to win this game or because I just can't pick against them. This team just refuses to lose, and I think they can grind out one more win.

Even though the Wildcats tried to say otherwise Sunday, all the pressure in this one is on Kentucky and that should work to KU's favor. In addition, KU's comfortable playing from behind and due for that one special game. I think we see it Monday night, and I think it looks an awful lot like the Purdue and Ohio State victories.

Kansas 73, Kentucky 69.

JN: Let me start with this: I think the line is too high. Kentucky and Kansas are closer than 6.5 points in my mind, and I'll be surprised if that line doesn't drop at least a point before tipoff.

Having said that, I'm picking Kentucky.

Kentucky guard Marquis Teague celebrates a dunk in front of Kansas players Tyshawn Taylor (10) Conner Teahan (2) and teammate Terrence Jones during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kentucky guard Marquis Teague celebrates a dunk in front of Kansas players Tyshawn Taylor (10) Conner Teahan (2) and teammate Terrence Jones during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York. by Nick Krug

The Wildcats are the toughest team in the nation to shoot against, and the Jayhawks haven't exactly been lighting up the nets to begin with.

I think KU will win the desire categories, like offensive rebounding. I think KU will win the turnover battle and should be pretty close to matching the UK's free throw numbers.

But I just don't see the Jayhawks outshooting the Wildcats, especially with as tough as Kentucky makes it on opposing teams inside.

Kentucky 68, Kansas 66.

All right, Matt, who's your Hawk to Rock?

MT: He's a senior and it's my last shot to pick him ... I gotta take it. I'm going with Tyshawn Taylor.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor leads the Jayhawks to the court prior to tipoff against Ohio State at the Superdome on Saturday, March 31, 2012.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor leads the Jayhawks to the court prior to tipoff against Ohio State at the Superdome on Saturday, March 31, 2012. by Nick Krug

The shooting slump ends, as Taylor knocks down a couple of outside shots and opens up more room for him to attack the rim to set up Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey inside. On the biggest stage of his life, in his last game as a Jayhawk, Taylor cements his legacy as one of KU's all-time greats by leading the Jayhawks to an upset of Kentucky.

JN: I'm taking Jeff Withey, who once again has a matchup that should allow him to rack up blocks.

Kansas center Jeff Withey blocks a shot by Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger during the second half on Saturday, March 31, 2012 at the Superdome.

Kansas center Jeff Withey blocks a shot by Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger during the second half on Saturday, March 31, 2012 at the Superdome. by Nick Krug

Kentucky gets 56 percent of its scoring from two-point range, meaning if Withey stays out of foul trouble, there's a great chance he gets at least five swats Monday.

The 7-foot junior, who has 27 blocks in his last five games, is just two blocks away from tying an NCAA Tournament record.

He also broke the Big 12 record for blocks in a season last game, as his 136 blocks topped Baylor's Ekpe Udoh's previous record of 133.

Almost no one would have predicted that for Withey before the season began. 

Predictions tally (through 38 games)
Tom/Matt: 31-7 record, 333 points off (8.8 points off/game)
Jesse: 33-5 record, 290 points off (7.6 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock

Tom Keegan/Matt Tait
Towson: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Kentucky: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Georgetown: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
UCLA: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Duke: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
FAU: Jeff Withey (4th in Keegan ratings)
South Florida: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Long Beach State: Elijah Johnson (7th in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Davidson: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
USC: Jeff Withey (4th in Keegan ratings)
Howard: Kevin Young (4th in Keegan ratings)
North Dakota: Elijah Johnson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Tyshawn Taylor (5th in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Travis Releford (7th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Detroit: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Purdue: Thomas Robinson (4th in Keegan ratings)
N.C. State: Tyshawn Taylor (7th in Keegan ratings)
North Carolina: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Jeff Withey (4th in Keegan ratings)
Average: 3.1st in Keegan ratings

Jesse Newell
Towson: Conner Teahan (6th in Keegan ratings)
Kentucky: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
Georgetown: Kevin Young (9th in Keegan ratings)
UCLA: Elijah Johnson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Duke: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
FAU: Tyshawn Taylor (7th in Keegan ratings)
South Florida: Elijah Johnson (6th in Keegan ratings)
Long Beach State: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Travis Releford (5th in Keegan ratings)
Davidson: Jeff Withey (5th in Keegan ratings)
USC: Elijah Johnson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Howard: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
North Dakota: Conner Teahan (5th in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Travis Releford (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Elijah Johnson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Travis Releford (2nd in Keegan ratings
Iowa State: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Kevin Young (9th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Travis Releford (5th in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Conner Teahan (6th in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Kevin Young (8th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Travis Releford (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Kevin Young (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Jeff Withey (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Travis Releford (6th in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Jeff Withey (6th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Kevin Young (5th in Keegan ratings)
Detroit: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Purdue: Tyshawn Taylor (3rd in Keegan ratings)
N.C. State: Jeff Withey (1st in Keegan ratings)
North Carolina: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Elijah Johnson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Average: 3.7th in Keegan ratings

Reply

What to expect from the Final Four matchup, plus predictions for Kansas-Ohio State

Jesse Newell: Welcome back to the GameDay Cram Session, as Kansas is taking on Ohio State on Saturday Night at the Final Four in New Orleans.

Matt, what impressed you most about Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger during your time interviewing him the last two days?

Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger turns to his teammates after missing a layup during a day of practices at the Superdome on Friday, March 30, 2012.

Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger turns to his teammates after missing a layup during a day of practices at the Superdome on Friday, March 30, 2012. by Nick Krug

Matt Tait: I'll say this, Sullinger seems like an easy guy to root for. He's humble, intelligent, unselfish and seems to be a genuinely good dude. It was fun listening to him talk about all he's gone through in his life to get to this point. He used to be a short chunky kid who got beat up on by his older brothers. Watching games with his dad, a coach, was more of an audio experience, as he said his dad used to "yap, yap, yap about every little thing during the games they watched."

This is a guy who has put in his time to become the player he is today. He has improved every year, he's a two-time All-American and I think he's one of the more underrated superstars we've seen in college basketball. Maybe that's because of his kind demeanor, but Sullinger is very deserving of every ounce of praise he gets. It should be a blast to watch him battle with Jeff Withey and Thomas Robinson.

JN: Statistically, Sullinger gives Ohio State a huge boost from when it didn't have him in its first matchup against KU this year.

Ohio State head coach Thad Matta smiles as he watches over the Buckeye's during a day of practices at the Superdome on Friday, March 30, 2012.

Ohio State head coach Thad Matta smiles as he watches over the Buckeye's during a day of practices at the Superdome on Friday, March 30, 2012. by Nick Krug

Not only does he shoot it well from two, three and the the free-throw line, but he also frees up his teammates for open shots and draws more than six fouls per 40 minutes.

KU's interior defense will be challenged, and the Jayhawks will need center Jeff Withey to do everything he can to stay out of foul trouble. KU doesn't have a great defensive matchup for Sullinger if Withey goes to the bench, and if he checks out, the Jayhawks will almost certainly be forced to double-team the Ohio State big man. That would only make it harder for KU to try to limit the production of other dangerous shooters like the Buckeyes' Deshaun Thomas and William Buford.

Matt, fill in the blank: I am most interested to see how ____ plays in his first Final Four game.

MT: Tyshawn Taylor.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor scans around the Superdome as the Jayhawks take the court for practice on Friday, March 30, 2012.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor scans around the Superdome as the Jayhawks take the court for practice on Friday, March 30, 2012. by Nick Krug

A lot of people are going to be watching Thomas Robinson and Jared Sullinger throughout Saturday night's game. Understandably so. But it's Taylor who excites me in this one. The guy has been through so much in his career at Kansas and has joined the elite list of Jayhawks who got his team to a Final Four. I think you'll see a relaxed, confident and aggressive Taylor on Saturday night and I also think you'll see at least one of his three-pointers go down. When you get to this point, there's no time to stress and psych yourself out. Taylor understands that and I expect to see the point guard have a ball Saturday night.

JN: In the biggest game of his career, Taylor couldn't be going against a tougher college defender.

Aaron Craft might not take Taylor's soul, but he will play the best on-ball defense of any player that Taylor has seen over his four years.

Ohio State guard Aaron Craft goes up for a layup during a day of practices at the Superdome on Friday, March 30, 2012.

Ohio State guard Aaron Craft goes up for a layup during a day of practices at the Superdome on Friday, March 30, 2012. by Nick Krug

Craft forces turnovers in all sorts of different ways, as evidenced by a video by SI.com's Luke Winn that shows all 10 of the turnovers Craft forced in Ohio State's win over Cincinnati.

According to Winn, Craft is responsible for 40.2 percent of Ohio State’s total turnover production in the NCAA Tournament, which includes 13 credited steals, 5.5 uncredited turnovers, one charge taken and one moving-screen foul drawn.

Taylor's role in this one, obviously, is vital. Though Craft will swipe the ball away as a help defender, his main task will be to try to frustrate Taylor.

If Craft doesn't steal it from him, KU has a great chance at limiting its total number of giveaways, which could be crucial against an Ohio State team that gives up few second-chance points and also doesn't turn it over much itself.

OK, Matt, what's your prediction for this game?

The Kansas Jayhawks take the court for practice at the Superdome on Friday, March 30, 2012.

The Kansas Jayhawks take the court for practice at the Superdome on Friday, March 30, 2012. by Nick Krug

MT: This is an awesome matchup, one that I could see both teams believing they are going to win. And why not? If they played 10 times, they'd probably win five each. What more could you ask for in the Final Four.

Having said that, I think Saturday night will be one of the five nights that favors Kansas. A lot of people want to say that the revenge factor will be huge for Ohio State, but I see it as the opposite. At this time of year and on this type of stage, I think confidence is more critical than anything. When they look into the eyes of their opponents Saturday night, the Jayhawks — Sullinger or no Sullinger — will be looking into the eyes of guys they beat back in December. A lot has changed for both teams since then, but I'm expecting both teams to play well and KU's effort to be a little better. Kansas 71, Ohio State 65.

JN: I'll take Ohio State by five.

Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger talks about his regret for not playing the Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse when the two teams met earlier this year, Thursday, March 29, 2012.

Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger talks about his regret for not playing the Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse when the two teams met earlier this year, Thursday, March 29, 2012. by Nick Krug

While I expect a good game, Ohio State is the better team, and it's the first time this tournament I've been able to say that about KU's opponent.

Back in December against Ohio State, KU had its second-best shooting game of the entire season in its 78-67 victory. Obviously, the Jayhawks had a lot to do with that, getting lots of layups while taking very few mid-range jumpers.

If you take out the shooting numbers, though, you can see how Ohio State can be a dangerous team.

The Buckeyes had 14 more field-goal attempts than the Jayhawks in that game (62 to 48), as KU turned it over on 26 percent of its possessions while only grabbing six of 22 available offensive rebounds.

Ohio State is tough to beat because it will try to out-possession opponents, taking its chances that it won't lose often when it turns the ball over less and offensive rebounds more than its foe.

KU was able to overcome it all with hot shooting in December, but I'm not banking on that happening again Saturday night.

Kansas guard Travis Releford pumps his fist after forcing Ohio State guard William Buford to turn it over in the first half Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Travis Releford pumps his fist after forcing Ohio State guard William Buford to turn it over in the first half Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Though this one should be close throughout, I'll pick Ohio State to pull away late.

All right, Matt, who's your Hawk to Rock?

MT: Give me Jeff Withey.

Kansas center Jeff Withey celebrates with director of basketball operations Barry Hinson after the Jayhawks' 80-67 win over North Carolina to advance to the Final Four on Sunday,  March 25, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Kansas center Jeff Withey celebrates with director of basketball operations Barry Hinson after the Jayhawks' 80-67 win over North Carolina to advance to the Final Four on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

I think Withey's length and shot-blocking ability will frustrate Sullinger throughout the night, giving KU an advantage on both ends. Tons of people within the Ohio State program talked this week about that type of player being the one guy that Sullinger has had trouble with and I think Withey will be up for this one. He might not block a ton of shots or score a ton of points, but his presence will be huge and will be the difference.

JN: I'll take Elijah Johnson.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson comes away with a steal from North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes during the first half on Sunday,  March 25, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson comes away with a steal from North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes during the first half on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

If Ohio State's defense does have a weakness, it's that the Buckeyes allow a high number of three-pointers to opponents.

Johnson took advantage of this in the teams' first matchup, going 5-for-7 from three to finish with 15 points.

The junior guard will need to be aggressive Saturday night, helping to create offense for KU with a much easier defensive player on him (Lenzelle Smith Jr.) than Taylor has.

I'll say that Johnson finishes with four threes and at least five assists against the Buckeyes' tough D.

Predictions tally (through 37 games)
Tom/Matt: 30-7 record, 329 points off (8.9 points off/game)
Jesse: 33-4 record, 283 points off (7.6 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock

Tom Keegan/Matt Tait
Towson: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Kentucky: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Georgetown: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
UCLA: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Duke: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
FAU: Jeff Withey (4th in Keegan ratings)
South Florida: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Long Beach State: Elijah Johnson (7th in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Davidson: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
USC: Jeff Withey (4th in Keegan ratings)
Howard: Kevin Young (4th in Keegan ratings)
North Dakota: Elijah Johnson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Tyshawn Taylor (5th in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Travis Releford (7th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Detroit: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Purdue: Thomas Robinson (4th in Keegan ratings)
N.C. State: Tyshawn Taylor (7th in Keegan ratings)
North Carolina: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Average: 3rd in Keegan ratings

Jesse Newell
Towson: Conner Teahan (6th in Keegan ratings)
Kentucky: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
Georgetown: Kevin Young (9th in Keegan ratings)
UCLA: Elijah Johnson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Duke: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
FAU: Tyshawn Taylor (7th in Keegan ratings)
South Florida: Elijah Johnson (6th in Keegan ratings)
Long Beach State: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Travis Releford (5th in Keegan ratings)
Davidson: Jeff Withey (5th in Keegan ratings)
USC: Elijah Johnson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Howard: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
North Dakota: Conner Teahan (5th in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Travis Releford (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Elijah Johnson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Travis Releford (2nd in Keegan ratings
Iowa State: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Kevin Young (9th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Travis Releford (5th in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Conner Teahan (6th in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Kevin Young (8th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Travis Releford (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Kevin Young (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Jeff Withey (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Travis Releford (6th in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Jeff Withey (6th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Kevin Young (5th in Keegan ratings)
Detroit: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Purdue: Tyshawn Taylor (3rd in Keegan ratings)
N.C. State: Jeff Withey (1st in Keegan ratings)
North Carolina: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Average: 3.8th in Keegan ratings

Reply

Will KU be able to shake the NCAA shooting jitters? Plus, predictions for KU-UNC in the Elite Eight

Jesse Newell: Welcome back to the GameDay Cram Session, as Kansas is taking on North Carolina on Sunday afternoon in the Elite Eight in St. Louis, Mo.

Matt, how do you think North Carolina coach Roy Williams handled the numerous questions he received Saturday about his history with Kansas?

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams laughs as his players talk about video games during a press conference on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams laughs as his players talk about video games during a press conference on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

Matt Tait: I thought Williams was great. For starters, he gladly answered every KU question thrown at him and gave some great insight into how much he still loves KU, what 2008 meant to him and how much he respects and admires Bill Self. Just great stuff. I covered coach Williams when I was in school and I grew up with his son, Scott. It was a lot of fun to be around him again. Class act all the way.

JN: Yeah, I was impressed as well.

It seemed like Williams was content with the fact that the questions were coming, so he was relaxed and answered all of them patiently.

It's amazing how much differently this game feels compared to the KU-UNC matchup in 2008. Back then, it seemed like a lot of KU fans wanted to get Roy.

This year, it seems like KU fans are much more concerned with getting back to the Final Four.

Honestly, that's a good thing, because these two teams deserve — in this game — to have the focus on them.

Speaking of the game, Matt, how would you describe the demeanor of the North Carolina players after interviewing them in the locker room Saturday?

North Carolina forward Tyler Zeller smiles as he talks about facing the Kansas big men during a press conference on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

North Carolina forward Tyler Zeller smiles as he talks about facing the Kansas big men during a press conference on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

MT: I'll say this ... I thought the Kansas players were loose and I thought the Carolina players were even looser. That surprised me. Especially with Kendall Marshall's status up in the air, I expected them to be a little tighter. I think both sides showed some very genuine joy in the fact that they're playing this game. Two elite programs, trip to the Final Four on the line, so much history on both sides ... it was really cool to see everyone on both sides enjoying the heck out of the moment.

JN: It's funny you mention how loose KU seemed, because I feel like we haven't seen any of that from the Jayhawks during the actual games in this tournament.

Tyshawn Taylor (10) loses the ball late in the second half of the Jayhawks' 60-57 win over North Carolina State in St. Louis Friday, March 16, 2012.

Tyshawn Taylor (10) loses the ball late in the second half of the Jayhawks' 60-57 win over North Carolina State in St. Louis Friday, March 16, 2012. by Mike Yoder

How else can you explain KU's horrific shooting the last two games? In Self's nine seasons at KU, he's 2-7 when his team has shot an effective field goal percentage of 39 percent or lower.

The two wins? Last Sunday against Purdue (38.7 eFG%) and Friday against N.C. State (38.3 eFG%).

Not only has KU shot it poorly, but it's also rushed up bad shots. Tyshawn Taylor has been impatient, while Thomas Robinson also has tried to do too much on occasion.

In his postgame talk after the N.C. State win, Self reminded his players that they were much better offensively when they made the defense work by moving the ball quickly side to side.

Kansas head coach Bill Self smiles next to Elijah Johnson as his players speak to his personality during a press conference on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Kansas head coach Bill Self smiles next to Elijah Johnson as his players speak to his personality during a press conference on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

We'll see if KU shows better composure this time after laboring offensively in each of its previous three tournament games.

All right, Matt, what's your prediction for this game?

MT: I'll take Kansas by four in a classic.

Elijah Johnson (15) along with from left, Jeff Withey, Tyshawn Taylor, and Travis Releford, laugh during a huddle in the second-half of the Jayhawks 60-57 win over North Carolina State in St. Louis Friday, March 16, 2012...

Elijah Johnson (15) along with from left, Jeff Withey, Tyshawn Taylor, and Travis Releford, laugh during a huddle in the second-half of the Jayhawks 60-57 win over North Carolina State in St. Louis Friday, March 16, 2012... by Mike Yoder

I went with UNC in my bracket, but I'm going with KU now and that's because of the injury to UNC point guard Kendall Marshall. If he plays, he'll be limited and that will be an advantage for KU. If he sits, that, too, will be an advantage for KU, who will make UNC reserve and Marshall replacement Stilman White pay way more than Ohio did on Friday night.

JN: I had this as my original pick and see no reason to change it now: I'll take KU by three.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson swings his towel after a Jayhawk bucket against North Carolina State during the second half on Friday, March 23, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson swings his towel after a Jayhawk bucket against North Carolina State during the second half on Friday, March 23, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

If North Carolina does have a weakness defensively (besides not forcing many turnovers), it's that the Tar Heels have a habit of allowing a lot of three-pointers.

Ohio exposed this a bit on Friday, as the Bobcats were able to penetrate and kick out effectively while making 12 of 32 threes (38 percent).

I think KU will get open shots from the outside. And this is the game the Jayhawks will have to hit some of them.

No, KU doesn't have to make up for its 12-for-54 performance from three so far in the tournament (22 percent). But I think if the Jayhawks can shoot right at their season average from three (35 percent) while taking a high number of open shots on the perimeter, they stand a great chance of winning this game. Something like 9-for-26 would be a big boost for KU, especially with as well as UNC defends inside.

Also in KU's favor is the fact that UNC relies heavily on two-pointers for its offense. KU enters as the No. 1 two-point defense in the country (40 percent), so if Jeff Withey can stay on the floor and KU can get back in transition, I like the Jayhawks' chances against an average-shooting Tar Heels' team.

Kansas center Jeff Withey blocks a shot by North Carolina State forward Richard Howell during the second half on Friday, March 23, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Kansas center Jeff Withey blocks a shot by North Carolina State forward Richard Howell during the second half on Friday, March 23, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

All right, Matt, who's your Hawk to Rock?

MT: Let's try this one more time ... I'll go with Tyshawn Taylor who simply has to be due for a big game.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor regains possession as North Carolina State forward Scott Wood defensds late in the second half on Friday, March 23, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor regains possession as North Carolina State forward Scott Wood defensds late in the second half on Friday, March 23, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

Taylor has not been as bad in this tournament as his shooting numbers suggest. And I think his ability to frustrate the UNC offense on D and get to the rim on offense will give Kansas a dimension that UNC doesn't have without Marshall and also one that will give the Carolina D a tough time. Beyond that, I think this is the game his jumper returns. You know the cliche ... Big-time players step up in big-time situations. This is as big as it gets for KU and for Taylor's legacy.

JN: Give me Thomas Robinson.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson settles into his headphones as he is photographed in the team locker room after an afternoon of interviews on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson settles into his headphones as he is photographed in the team locker room after an afternoon of interviews on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

One of North Carolina's biggest strengths offensively is offensive rebounding, and Robinson is pretty much the only KU player who can prevent the Tar Heels from dominating the glass.

The junior enters as the No. 1 defensive rebounder in the nation percentage-wise, and he's going to have lots of opportunities to help his team by ending possessions and out-toughing the UNC big men for boards.

A high-tempo game plus an amped-up Robinson plus a lot of UNC missed shots could potentially add up to one of the best rebounding games of his career.

Give me 20 rebounds for Robinson in a close KU win.

Predictions tally (through 36 games)
Tom/Matt: 29-7 record, 320 points off (8.9 points off/game)
Jesse: 32-4 record, 273 points off (7.6 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock

Tom Keegan/Matt Tait
Towson: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Kentucky: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Georgetown: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
UCLA: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Duke: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
FAU: Jeff Withey (4th in Keegan ratings)
South Florida: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Long Beach State: Elijah Johnson (7th in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Davidson: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
USC: Jeff Withey (4th in Keegan ratings)
Howard: Kevin Young (4th in Keegan ratings)
North Dakota: Elijah Johnson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Tyshawn Taylor (5th in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Travis Releford (7th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Detroit: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Purdue: Thomas Robinson (4th in Keegan ratings)
N.C. State: Tyshawn Taylor (7th in Keegan ratings)
Average: 3.1st in Keegan ratings

Jesse Newell
Towson: Conner Teahan (6th in Keegan ratings)
Kentucky: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
Georgetown: Kevin Young (9th in Keegan ratings)
UCLA: Elijah Johnson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Duke: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
FAU: Tyshawn Taylor (7th in Keegan ratings)
South Florida: Elijah Johnson (6th in Keegan ratings)
Long Beach State: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Travis Releford (5th in Keegan ratings)
Davidson: Jeff Withey (5th in Keegan ratings)
USC: Elijah Johnson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Howard: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
North Dakota: Conner Teahan (5th in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Travis Releford (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Elijah Johnson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Travis Releford (2nd in Keegan ratings
Iowa State: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Kevin Young (9th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Travis Releford (5th in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Conner Teahan (6th in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Kevin Young (8th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Travis Releford (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Kevin Young (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Jeff Withey (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Travis Releford (6th in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Jeff Withey (6th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Kevin Young (5th in Keegan ratings)
Detroit: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Purdue: Tyshawn Taylor (3rd in Keegan ratings)
N.C. State: Jeff Withey (1st in Keegan ratings)
Average: 3.8th in Keegan ratings

Reply

Which individual matchups will be the most intriguing? Plus, predictions for KU-N.C. State

Jesse Newell: Welcome back to the GameDay Cram Session, as Kansas is taking on N.C. State on Friday night in the Sweet 16 in St. Louis, Mo.

Matt, what did you learn about N.C. State on Thursday that you didn't know before?

The North Carolina State Wolfpack warm up before practice at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

The North Carolina State Wolfpack warm up before practice at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

Matt Tait: One of the things that jumped out the most was the incredible size of their backcourt. The Wolfpack's top three guards go 6-5 (sophomore point guard Lorenzo Brown), 6-5 (senior shooting guard C.J. Williams) and 6-6 (junior sharpshooter, Scott Wood). That's incredible. And that's gone a long way toward getting N.C. State to this point in the tournament.

They're a matchup nightmare for most teams — inside and on the perimeter — and they love to use that to their advantage.

Although the Jayhawks aren't quite as tall in the backcourt, Tyshawn Taylor (6-3), Elijah Johnson (6-4) and Conner Teahan (6-5) should be able to hold their own and create some mismatches the other way, as well.

Another thing that was new to me is that N.C. State actually has less depth than Kansas. While the Jayhawks teeter on the border of playing seven or eight guys, the Wolfpack strictly play seven. Fatigue probably won't be a factor in this one, but foul trouble could be.

JN: N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried definitely performs a juggling act when his players get in foul trouble early.

North Carolina State head coach Mark Gottfried directs his players during practice at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

North Carolina State head coach Mark Gottfried directs his players during practice at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

Last game against Georgetown, Wood picked up his second foul with 7:30 left in the first half. Gottfried sat him for three minutes before bringing him back in.

Forward Richard Howell then picked up his second whistle at the 3:35 mark and sat for the rest of the half.

When Brown received his second foul with 1:12 left, Gottfried took him out as well, leaving N.C. State with two guys on the bench with a pair of fouls and one player in the game (Wood) with two.

Definitely keep an eye on the fouls, especially early. Though NCAA Tournament games tend to have fewer fouls, every whistle could be huge for an N.C. State coaching staff that doesn't have much faith in its reserves.

Also, pay close attention to the foul count on Jeff Withey, who is KU's best protector of the rim. If he can stay in, he should play an important role against an N.C. State team that gets 58 percent of its scoring from twos.

Matt, which individual matchup in this game are you most interested to see?

MT: Everyone wants to see the showdown in the post between Thomas Robinson and C.J. Leslie. And I'm in that camp, too. But I think the matchup that will have the biggest impact on this game is the one at point guard between Taylor and Brown.

North Carolina State guard Lorenzo Brown runs up the court during a drill on a day of press conferences and practices at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

North Carolina State guard Lorenzo Brown runs up the court during a drill on a day of press conferences and practices at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

Both are long, athletic guards who can drive and pull up and shoot and both are critical in their team's offensive flow and rhythm. I like Tyshawn's experience here to give him the nod, but it won't be because Brown backs down.

JN: Because of his combination of size and quickness, Brown is a player who's able to impact the game in a lot of ways.

He averages 1.8 steals, which is the best mark for a Wolfpack player in the last nine years, while his ability to penetrate and kick also has helped him average 6.4 assists, second in the ACC only to North Carolina's Kendall Marshall.

The sophomore Brown — who was ranked Rivals.com's 37th-best player in the class of 2010 — also makes 54 percent of his two-pointers and, at 6 foot 5, pulls down a high number of defensive rebounds for a point guard.

Taylor doesn't often play against guards with both the size and speed that he has himself, but Brown is one of those players whose athleticism should be on the same level as the KU senior.

All right, Matt, what's your prediction for this game?

The Jayhawks take the court during a day of press conferences and practices at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

The Jayhawks take the court during a day of press conferences and practices at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

MT: I like Kansas in this one and I like the Jayhawks for two reasons. First, I think KU has more experience in big-time, pressure-packed games and that should go a long way in this one. Beyond that, I think KU's players, though similar to N.C. State's, are just a little more talented. If both sides are on, KU's talent and experience should win out.

The other reason I like KU Friday night is because of head coach Bill Self's unreal track record in the tournament when given time to prepare for an opponent. Anyone remember his matchup with UAB in the Sweet 16 a few years back? Or how about last year's Sweet 16 showdown with Richmond?

I'll take Kansas by 8.

JN: I'll take KU by 12.

Kansas player Thomas Robinson reaches to slap hands with fans wanting autographs as the Jayhawks' are ushered off the court at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Kansas player Thomas Robinson reaches to slap hands with fans wanting autographs as the Jayhawks' are ushered off the court at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

N.C. State plays an up-tempo pace while defending the interior well and trying to get most of its points inside.

In other words, the Wolfpack play the exact same style as the Jayhawks ... only not quite as well.

Unlike the matchup against Purdue, KU should be able to play to its strengths against N.C. State, and I think the Jayhawks' interior defense will be a big key. Early in the N.C. State's game against Georgetown, the Wolfpack players continued to attack the lane, even if their shots were getting blocked.

With Withey providing an obstacle underneath and Thomas Robinson limiting offensive rebounds, I see N.C. State struggling to score, making me think the Jayhawks should advance to the Elite Eight with a double-digit victory.

OK, Matt, who's your Hawk to Rock?

MT: I think it's a huge advantage for KU that the Jayhawks will be able to return to a more traditional style in this one, where Withey and Robinson can play a little more straight up. And I expect both to have solid games. But I think it's time for Tyshawn Taylor to have his "Wow" game of this NCAA Tournament.

Tyshawn Taylor (10) and Elijah Johnson (15) walk off the court and acknowledge the crowd after KUÕs 63-60 win over the Purdue Boilermakers. KU will advance to the Sweet Sixteen game against North Carolina State, Friday, March 23, in St. Louis.

Tyshawn Taylor (10) and Elijah Johnson (15) walk off the court and acknowledge the crowd after KUÕs 63-60 win over the Purdue Boilermakers. KU will advance to the Sweet Sixteen game against North Carolina State, Friday, March 23, in St. Louis. by Mike Yoder

He was OK against Detroit and then missed the second half because of cramping. He never got going against Purdue and struggled with foul trouble as well. Tyshawn's usually at his best when he's facing a big-time challenge. Brown will provide that for him on an individual level and the stage will do it for him on a grander scale.

JN: I'll take Withey as my HTR.

Kansas center Jeff Withey elevates for a dunk during drills with assistant coach Danny Manning at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Kansas center Jeff Withey elevates for a dunk during drills with assistant coach Danny Manning at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. by Nick Krug

Here's a quote from Gottfried during his time at the podium Thursday:

"When you look at Withey, and you look at our league, take a guy like John Henson at North Carolina. Withey has more blocked shots than Henson. That jumps out at our guys real quick, because they have great respect for North Carolina's front line."

Withey, who played just 15 minutes against Purdue because of a bad matchup, has the potential to single-handedly throw off N.C. State's entire offensive gameplan.

If Withey was on the Wolfpack players' minds Thursday, just imagine what might happen if he blocks a couple shots early Friday. Much of N.C. State's success offensively has come from being fearless and relentlessly attacking the rim, and if Withey's presence can make NCSU players think twice about inside shots, then he could have a huge impact even if he does nothing on the offensive end.

Give me a handful of blocks for Withey, who should make up for lost minutes Friday if he's able to avoid foul trouble.

Predictions tally (through 35 games)
Tom/Matt: 28-7 record, 315 points off (9 points off/game)
Jesse: 31-4 record, 264 points off (7.5 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock

Tom Keegan/Matt Tait
Towson: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Kentucky: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Georgetown: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
UCLA: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Duke: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
FAU: Jeff Withey (4th in Keegan ratings)
South Florida: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Long Beach State: Elijah Johnson (7th in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Davidson: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
USC: Jeff Withey (4th in Keegan ratings)
Howard: Kevin Young (4th in Keegan ratings)
North Dakota: Elijah Johnson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Tyshawn Taylor (5th in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Travis Releford (7th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Detroit: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Purdue: Thomas Robinson (4th in Keegan ratings)
Average: 2.9th in Keegan ratings

Jesse Newell
Towson: Conner Teahan (6th in Keegan ratings)
Kentucky: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
Georgetown: Kevin Young (9th in Keegan ratings)
UCLA: Elijah Johnson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Duke: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
FAU: Tyshawn Taylor (7th in Keegan ratings)
South Florida: Elijah Johnson (6th in Keegan ratings)
Long Beach State: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Travis Releford (5th in Keegan ratings)
Davidson: Jeff Withey (5th in Keegan ratings)
USC: Elijah Johnson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Howard: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
North Dakota: Conner Teahan (5th in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Travis Releford (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Elijah Johnson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Travis Releford (2nd in Keegan ratings
Iowa State: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Kevin Young (9th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Travis Releford (5th in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Conner Teahan (6th in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Kevin Young (8th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Travis Releford (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Kevin Young (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Jeff Withey (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Travis Releford (6th in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Jeff Withey (6th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Kevin Young (5th in Keegan ratings)
Detroit: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Purdue: Tyshawn Taylor (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Average: 3.9th in Keegan ratings

Reply

Video: What to expect from Purdue and vastly different predictions for Sunday’s game

Predictions tally (through 34 games)
Tom/Matt: 27-7 record, 301 points off (8.9 points off/game)
Jesse: 30-4 record, 263 points off (7.7 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock

Tom Keegan/Matt Tait
Towson: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Kentucky: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Georgetown: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
UCLA: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Duke: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
FAU: Jeff Withey (4th in Keegan ratings)
South Florida: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Long Beach State: Elijah Johnson (7th in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Davidson: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
USC: Jeff Withey (4th in Keegan ratings)
Howard: Kevin Young (4th in Keegan ratings)
North Dakota: Elijah Johnson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Tyshawn Taylor (5th in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Travis Releford (7th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Detroit: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Average: 2.9th in Keegan ratings

Jesse Newell
Towson: Conner Teahan (6th in Keegan ratings)
Kentucky: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
Georgetown: Kevin Young (9th in Keegan ratings)
UCLA: Elijah Johnson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Duke: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
FAU: Tyshawn Taylor (7th in Keegan ratings)
South Florida: Elijah Johnson (6th in Keegan ratings)
Long Beach State: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Travis Releford (5th in Keegan ratings)
Davidson: Jeff Withey (5th in Keegan ratings)
USC: Elijah Johnson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Howard: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
North Dakota: Conner Teahan (5th in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Travis Releford (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Elijah Johnson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Travis Releford (2nd in Keegan ratings
Iowa State: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Kevin Young (9th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Travis Releford (5th in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Conner Teahan (6th in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Kevin Young (8th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Travis Releford (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Kevin Young (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Jeff Withey (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Travis Releford (6th in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Jeff Withey (6th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Kevin Young (5th in Keegan ratings)
Detroit: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Average: 3.9th in Keegan ratings

Reply

Video: Discussing two KU strengths that Detroit will try to take away, plus predictions for Friday’s game

Predictions tally (through 33 games)
Tom: 26-7 record, 298 points off (9.0 points off/game)
Jesse: 29-4 record, 259 points off (7.8 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock

Tom Keegan
Towson: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Kentucky: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Georgetown: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
UCLA: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Duke: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
FAU: Jeff Withey (4th in Keegan ratings)
South Florida: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Long Beach State: Elijah Johnson (7th in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Davidson: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
USC: Jeff Withey (4th in Keegan ratings)
Howard: Kevin Young (4th in Keegan ratings)
North Dakota: Elijah Johnson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Tyshawn Taylor (5th in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Travis Releford (7th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Average: 2.9th in Keegan ratings

Jesse Newell
Towson: Conner Teahan (6th in Keegan ratings)
Kentucky: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
Georgetown: Kevin Young (9th in Keegan ratings)
UCLA: Elijah Johnson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Duke: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
FAU: Tyshawn Taylor (7th in Keegan ratings)
South Florida: Elijah Johnson (6th in Keegan ratings)
Long Beach State: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Travis Releford (5th in Keegan ratings)
Davidson: Jeff Withey (5th in Keegan ratings)
USC: Elijah Johnson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Howard: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
North Dakota: Conner Teahan (5th in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Travis Releford (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Elijah Johnson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Travis Releford (2nd in Keegan ratings
Iowa State: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Kevin Young (9th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Travis Releford (5th in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Conner Teahan (6th in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Kevin Young (8th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Travis Releford (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Kevin Young (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Jeff Withey (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Travis Releford (6th in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Jeff Withey (6th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Kevin Young (5th in Keegan ratings)
Average: 3.9th in Keegan ratings

Reply

Which counts for more: having few good wins or few bad losses? Plus, predictions for KU, Baylor

Jesse Newell: Welcome back to the GameDay Cram Session, as Kansas is taking on Baylor on Friday night in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament.

Tom, after his team played well and defeated Kansas State to advance to the semifinals, Baylor coach Scott Drew defended the Bears' season, saying, “If you look at our losses, we haven’t had a bad loss. The teams that we’ve lost to are all good teams and teams that are NCAA Tournament teams, are going to be successful.”

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson wrestles for position with Baylor forward Perry Jones III during the first half on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson wrestles for position with Baylor forward Perry Jones III during the first half on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Do you agree with that statement?

Tom Keegan: Yes, but I don’t think that’s a good way to judge a team at this time of year. You don’t advance in the NCAA Tournament by losing to good teams. You advance by beating good teams.

While it’s true that all of Baylor’s losses came against good opponents — Kansas twice, Missouri twice, Iowa State and Kansas State once — what victory qualifies as a “signature victory?" Mississippi State in Dallas? K-State in Manhattan? Iowa State in Waco?

The Kansas bench goes wild during a Jayhawk run in the second half on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Kansas bench goes wild during a Jayhawk run in the second half on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

JN: I'd have to say Baylor's two wins against KSU this year would be its best wins — and Thursday's victory was probably its best.

There is something to be said, though, for not slipping up against teams you're "supposed" to beat. The Bears don't have a surprising loss on their schedule (like a semi-home game against Davidson, for example), so maybe that's the point Drew was trying to make.

For as much talk as there has been about Baylor being disappointing this year, let's remember this team came into the season preseason ranked No. 12 in the Associated Press poll.

The Bears' ranking this week? Yep, it's No. 12.

Kansas guard Travis Releford wrestles on the floor for a loose ball with Baylor guard Pierre Jackson during the first half on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Travis Releford wrestles on the floor for a loose ball with Baylor guard Pierre Jackson during the first half on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

I'd say that anyone who calls this Baylor season a huge disappointment might be guilty of over-exaggerating just a bit.

Tom, turnovers have held Baylor back the past couple of seasons. Is there any reason to believe things are getting better in that area?

TK: I’m going to let Scott Drew answer that one.

Scott, the floor is yours: “I’ll throw coach Knight a bone here. He did a great job a couple of weeks ago. I asked him — he always moves the ball so well when he coaches, and we were a little stagnant — we threw in his favorite drill to help with assist-to-turnovers. I don’t think the guys liked it at first, but we’re getting better. So, I think we’ve handled the ball better and (haven’t) had as many turnovers lately.”

JN: Though Baylor's turnovers have improved in the last few games, that remains as the Bears' biggest weakness offensively.

Kansas junior Travis Releford reaches for a loose ball against Baylor's Quincy Miller in the second half on Monday January 16, 2012 in Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas junior Travis Releford reaches for a loose ball against Baylor's Quincy Miller in the second half on Monday January 16, 2012 in Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

BU has shot it well from two-point range, three-point range and the free throw line and also is a good offensive rebounding team this year. The Bears give it away more than the average NCAA team, though, which is the only thing keeping them from being an elite offensive team.

OK, Tom, what's your prediction for this game?

TK: Kansas by 3.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor dips under Baylor forward Perry Jones for a bucket during the second half on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor dips under Baylor forward Perry Jones for a bucket during the second half on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Baylor has a greater depth of talent. Kansas competes harder and has more experience beating good teams in close games.

JN: I'll take KU by seven.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson gets up for an alley-oop over Baylor defenders Perry Jones III and Anthony Jones (41) during the first half on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson gets up for an alley-oop over Baylor defenders Perry Jones III and Anthony Jones (41) during the first half on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks have proven this year they can dice up Baylor's zone defense, which gives KU an advantage going in.

Even if both teams' offenses are about equal (which they might be), I'll take KU's defense over Baylor's.

It doesn't hurt that the Jayhawks will have the advantage of a home crowd as well.

All right, Tom, who's your Hawk to Rock?

TK: Jeff Withey.

Jeff Withey gets a hand on a shot by Baylor forward Perry Jones.

Jeff Withey gets a hand on a shot by Baylor forward Perry Jones. by Richard Gwin

He almost always plays disruptive defense and with Baylor expending so much effort trying to stop Thomas Robinson, things should open up for Withey.

JN: I'll take zone-killer Kevin Young.

Kansas forward Kevin Young goes up for a reverse dunk during the first half of KU's game against Oklahoma State on Monday, Feb. 27, 2012, at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla.

Kansas forward Kevin Young goes up for a reverse dunk during the first half of KU's game against Oklahoma State on Monday, Feb. 27, 2012, at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla. by Richard Gwin

Even when it hasn't been successful, Drew has defended his team's zone defense and been hesitant to go away from it.

Young is KU's best weapon against the zone, a big man who is a skilled passer that can also dribble out of trouble if he needs to.

The junior had three key assists in just 10 minutes in KU's last game against Baylor. Look for KU coach Bill Self to throw him in sooner if KU is needing better execution against the Bears' defense Friday.

Predictions tally (through 32 games)
Tom: 26-6 record, 286 points off (8.9 points off/game)
Jesse: 29-3 record, 243 points off (7.6 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock

Tom Keegan
Towson: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Kentucky: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Georgetown: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
UCLA: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Duke: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
FAU: Jeff Withey (4th in Keegan ratings)
South Florida: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Long Beach State: Elijah Johnson (7th in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Davidson: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
USC: Jeff Withey (4th in Keegan ratings)
Howard: Kevin Young (4th in Keegan ratings)
North Dakota: Elijah Johnson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Tyshawn Taylor (5th in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Travis Releford (7th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Average: 2.9th in Keegan ratings

Jesse Newell
Towson: Conner Teahan (6th in Keegan ratings)
Kentucky: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
Georgetown: Kevin Young (9th in Keegan ratings)
UCLA: Elijah Johnson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Duke: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
FAU: Tyshawn Taylor (7th in Keegan ratings)
South Florida: Elijah Johnson (6th in Keegan ratings)
Long Beach State: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Travis Releford (5th in Keegan ratings)
Davidson: Jeff Withey (5th in Keegan ratings)
USC: Elijah Johnson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Howard: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
North Dakota: Conner Teahan (5th in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Travis Releford (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Elijah Johnson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Travis Releford (2nd in Keegan ratings
Iowa State: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Kevin Young (9th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Travis Releford (5th in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Conner Teahan (6th in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Kevin Young (8th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Travis Releford (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Kevin Young (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Jeff Withey (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Travis Releford (6th in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Jeff Withey (6th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Average: 3.9th in Keegan ratings

Reply

Why KU has struggled to score against Texas A&M? Plus, predictions for Thursday’s game

Jesse Newell: Welcome back to the GameDay Cram Session, as Kansas is taking on Texas A&M on Thursday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament.

Tom, A&M's Khris Middleton got hot and lit up Kansas for 23 points in College Station. What needs to happen to keep him from going off again?

Thomas Robinson (0) and Brady Morningstar (12) double-team Texas A&M's Khris Middleton (22) Wednesday, March 2, 2011.

Thomas Robinson (0) and Brady Morningstar (12) double-team Texas A&M's Khris Middleton (22) Wednesday, March 2, 2011. by Mike Yoder

Tom Keegan: Travis Releford needs to answer the challenge issued by his coach to become a lock-down defender. Bill Self made that challenge in the postgame presser after J'Covan Brown scored 29 of his 33 points in the second half. Releford hasn't looked as if he moved as well late in the season as earlier. Maybe the rest will revive him in time for the postseason.

JN: Self commented Wednesday afternoon that Releford was "nicked-up," which isn't the kind of news KU fans want to be hearing around this time of year. Self didn't go into more details, though it doesn't sound like this has to do with a foot injury that Releford suffered earlier in the year.

Kansas' Travis Releford (24) applies defensive pressure to Texas' Sheldon McCellan (1) during the first half Saturday, March 3, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas' Travis Releford (24) applies defensive pressure to Texas' Sheldon McCellan (1) during the first half Saturday, March 3, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by John Young

Either way, KU will need someone to step up on Middleton, who scored 11 points during A&M’s 16-2 run that cut the Jayhawks' lead to 57-53 with 1:56 left in KU's 66-58 win on Feb. 22. Middleton's 23 points was the most he'd scored since Dec. 10 ... and he hasn't scored more than 15 in a game since then.

If Releford can't stay with Middleton, look for Elijah Johnson and Conner Teahan to both get a chance to guard him as well.

Tom, why do you think KU has had trouble scoring against A&M so far this season?

Kansas guard Conner Teahan gets caught between defenders beneath the basket during the first half of the Jayhawks' game against Texas A&M on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, in College Station, Texas.

Kansas guard Conner Teahan gets caught between defenders beneath the basket during the first half of the Jayhawks' game against Texas A&M on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, in College Station, Texas. by Mike Yoder

TK: A&M plays a slow pace so a lot of teams have trouble scoring. But more than just that, the way the Aggies clog the lane has been an effective means of slowing down Thomas Robinson, who averaged 14 points a game against them. He did score 18 points in the game in Lawrence, but needed to make all 10 free throws to do it. Robinson combined for three first-half points in the two games.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson goes up for a shot against Texas A&M forward Ray Turner during the second half on Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson goes up for a shot against Texas A&M forward Ray Turner during the second half on Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

JN: Interestingly, most of A&M's success defensively against KU has come from defending the three.

The Jayhawks have had two of their four worst three-point shooting games this year against the Aggies, making four of 20 threes in the first matchup (20 percent) and four of 18 in the second one (22.2 percent).

When KU isn't shooting an outside shot, though, it's had a lot of success scoring and also drawing fouls. The Jayhawks made 16 of 27 two-pointers (59 percent) to go with 23 free throws in their home game against the Aggies before making 17 of 36 twos (47 percent) with 29 free throws at College Station.

Though it might be tougher for KU to score inside against A&M's sagging defense, it hasn't been impossible, especially when the Jayhawks have been able to draw contact against a foul-happy team like the Aggies.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor is fouled as he lofts a shot over Texas A&M forward Keith Davis during the second half on Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor is fouled as he lofts a shot over Texas A&M forward Keith Davis during the second half on Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

OK, Tom, what's your prediction for this game?

TK: Kansas by 12.

Kansas center Jeff Withey and forward Thomas Robinson laugh with their teammates and coaches as they huddle together for the Alma Mater on Saturday, March 3, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey and forward Thomas Robinson laugh with their teammates and coaches as they huddle together for the Alma Mater on Saturday, March 3, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

It might take a while to take control, but Kansas has too much of a quickness advantage to believe the Aggies can pull off the upset.

JN: I'll go with KU by 18.

Kansas defenders Conner Teahan, center, and Elijah Johnson defend against a pass from Texas A&M guard Zach Kinsley during the second half on Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas defenders Conner Teahan, center, and Elijah Johnson defend against a pass from Texas A&M guard Zach Kinsley during the second half on Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

In the teams' last game, A&M couldn't get anything going against KU offensively until that flurry by Middleton at the end. If you remember, the Aggies mustered just 21 points at halftime.

I think a more average performance by Middleton will result in an uglier effort by A&M's offense. Look for the Jayhawks to hit more than four three-pointers this time as well, which should allow them to put this one out of reach early.

All right, Tom, who's your Hawk to Rock?

TK: Tyshawn Taylor.

Kansas senior point guard Tyshawn Taylor has overcome his fair share of adversity as a Jayhawk. Taylor is preparing to lead his team against Texas in his final home game at Allen Fieldhouse. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

Kansas senior point guard Tyshawn Taylor has overcome his fair share of adversity as a Jayhawk. Taylor is preparing to lead his team against Texas in his final home game at Allen Fieldhouse. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo by Nick Krug

Senior is jacked to lead a deep postseason run.

JN: Every time KU plays A&M, I am compelled to take Jeff Withey as my HTR, just because the matchup is so good for him.

Kansas center Jeff Withey stuffs a shot by Texas A&M forward David Loubeau during the second half on Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey stuffs a shot by Texas A&M forward David Loubeau during the second half on Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A&M almost never gets to the free throw line and also is a poor three-point shooting team. That leaves the Aggies only one option to score points, which is from two-pointers (where they get 58 percent of their scoring).

Withey doesn't like two-point attempts, and in fact, he's the best in the Big 12 at blocking them.

The 7-footer had eight blocks in his first game against A&M this year and four more in the next one.

Let's shoot for the middle and say he has six blocks this game — to go with at least eight rebounds — in a KU victory.

Predictions tally (through 31 games)
Tom: 25-6 record, 281 points off (9.1 points off/game)
Jesse: 28-3 record, 242 points off (7.8 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock

Tom Keegan
Towson: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Kentucky: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Georgetown: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
UCLA: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Duke: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
FAU: Jeff Withey (4th in Keegan ratings)
South Florida: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Long Beach State: Elijah Johnson (7th in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Davidson: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
USC: Jeff Withey (4th in Keegan ratings)
Howard: Kevin Young (4th in Keegan ratings)
North Dakota: Elijah Johnson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Tyshawn Taylor (5th in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Travis Releford (7th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Average: 2.9th in Keegan ratings

Jesse Newell
Towson: Conner Teahan (6th in Keegan ratings)
Kentucky: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
Georgetown: Kevin Young (9th in Keegan ratings)
UCLA: Elijah Johnson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Duke: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
FAU: Tyshawn Taylor (7th in Keegan ratings)
South Florida: Elijah Johnson (6th in Keegan ratings)
Long Beach State: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Travis Releford (5th in Keegan ratings)
Davidson: Jeff Withey (5th in Keegan ratings)
USC: Elijah Johnson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Howard: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
North Dakota: Conner Teahan (5th in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Travis Releford (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Elijah Johnson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Travis Releford (2nd in Keegan ratings
Iowa State: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Kevin Young (9th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Travis Releford (5th in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Conner Teahan (6th in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Kevin Young (8th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Travis Releford (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Kevin Young (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Jeff Withey (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Travis Releford (6th in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Jeff Withey (6th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Average: 3.9th in Keegan ratings

Reply

Will Tyshawn Taylor perform well on his Senior Night? Plus, predictions for KU, Texas

Jesse Newell: Welcome back to the GameDay Cram Session, as Kansas is taking on Texas on Saturday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

Tom, Kansas coach Bill Self said earlier this week that sometimes Senior Night can cause extra nerves for seniors because they worry about their postgame speeches and other distractions that the game brings. With as emotional as KU guard Tyshawn is, could you potentially see those things leading to him having bad night?

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor tosses up a lob over the Texas defense for teammate Thomas Robinson during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at the Frank Erwin Center.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor tosses up a lob over the Texas defense for teammate Thomas Robinson during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at the Frank Erwin Center. by Nick Krug

Tom Keegan: No. If anything, I think the emotions will make him play better.

He's going out in style with a great year, and I think this game will be a microcosm of that. He might start shaky, but once he gets the sweat going, he'll play great.

JN: Taylor will have lots of family here today, including a sister who flew in from New Jersey, an aunt who flew in from Florida and quite a few cousins that also made their way to Kansas to see his last home game.

He also mentioned earlier in the week how he wished he could write his speech on Twitter, as he's not entirely comfortable with public speaking.

Take out the human factors, and this probably shouldn't be a high-turnover game for Taylor. He had no giveaways in the first matchup against UT, and in his last 81 minutes, he has just three turnovers.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor lofts a shot over Texas forward Sheldon McClellan (2) for a bucket during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at the Frank Erwin Center.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor lofts a shot over Texas forward Sheldon McClellan (2) for a bucket during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at the Frank Erwin Center. by Nick Krug

I'm not sure if anyone could blame him, though, if he did struggle in the first few minutes on such an emotional day.

Tom, Texas has been inconsistent, but if the Longhorns put it all together, is there anything scary about them as an opponent?

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson tosses a pass from the floor underneath Texas guard Myck Kabongo after a steal during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at the Frank Erwin Center.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson tosses a pass from the floor underneath Texas guard Myck Kabongo after a steal during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at the Frank Erwin Center. by Nick Krug

TK: Sure. Junior guard J'Covan Brown tends to play well against Kansas, and if he does share the ball, there are some guys that can get hot.

I thought Sheldon McClellan got hot in the first matchup, but Brown never picked up on that. Guard Myck Kabongo is super-quick, and he has a whole year of experience now. And a win here for the Longhorns also would vault to the top of their argument for making the NCAA Tournament field.

JN: I think the scary part about this matchup for KU is that Travis Releford hasn't had his best defensive games as of late.

The junior did a great job in the first game against Brown, who scored 24 points but made just seven of 26 field goals.

Kansas guard Travis Releford gets a hand on a three to block a shot by Texas guard J'Covan Brown late in the second half on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at the Frank Erwin Center.

Kansas guard Travis Releford gets a hand on a three to block a shot by Texas guard J'Covan Brown late in the second half on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at the Frank Erwin Center. by Nick Krug

Maybe it's a defensive slump, or maybe Releford's ankle is bothering him more than he's telling, but he just hasn't been the lockdown defender lately that he was early in the season.

Releford is KU's best option to guard Brown, and if he's not able to stick with him, the 6-foot-1 UT guard has the ability to shoot the Longhorns right into a game — even one at Allen Fieldhouse.

OK, Tom, what's your prediction for this game?

TK: KU by 12.

Kansas University students Vanessa Phillips, Wichita senior, and Josh Deboer, Overland Park senior, scowl at the Missouri players as they take the court  prior to tipoff on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas University students Vanessa Phillips, Wichita senior, and Josh Deboer, Overland Park senior, scowl at the Missouri players as they take the court prior to tipoff on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Fans will be into it because they know they won't see this team again in Allen Fieldhouse until Late Night, which should be enough to carry KU to the victory.

JN: I'll take KU by five.

Kansas forward Justin Wesley wrestles for a loose ball with Texas center Clint Chapman during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at the Frank Erwin Center.

Kansas forward Justin Wesley wrestles for a loose ball with Texas center Clint Chapman during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at the Frank Erwin Center. by Nick Krug

Texas' ability to get offensive rebounds and to the free throw line makes it a dangerous opponent no matter the location. Plus, this just feels like the type of big-time atmosphere where Brown will thrive.

I'm still picking KU, but I wouldn't be surprised if this is a game where the Jayhawks face a second-half deficit before rallying to win.

All right, Tom, who's your Hawk to Rock?

TK: Tyshawn Taylor.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor hooks around Texas big men Clint Chapman (53) and Jonathan Holmes (10) for a pass during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at the Frank Erwin Center.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor hooks around Texas big men Clint Chapman (53) and Jonathan Holmes (10) for a pass during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at the Frank Erwin Center. by Nick Krug

The quickest player in the country goes out in style.

JN: I'll take Thomas Robinson on what should be his final home game.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson smiles as he waits for the inbound while guarded by Texas forward Alexis Wangmene during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at the Frank Erwin Center.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson smiles as he waits for the inbound while guarded by Texas forward Alexis Wangmene during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at the Frank Erwin Center. by Nick Krug

He won't have it easy scoring inside against guys like Clint Chapman — who remains an underrated defender — but Robinson still should have a huge impact on the offensive glass.

The Longhorns have struggled this year with closing out possessions, and Robinson took advantage with five offensive rebounds in his first game against UT.

I think we'll see Robinson's famed motor on full display on Saturday night, which should lead to a 20-10 effort in KU's home finale.

Predictions tally (through 30 games)
Tom: 24-6 record, 279 points off (9.3 points off/game)
Jesse: 27-3 record, 237 points off (7.9 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock

Tom Keegan
Towson: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Kentucky: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Georgetown: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
UCLA: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Duke: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
FAU: Jeff Withey (4th in Keegan ratings)
South Florida: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Long Beach State: Elijah Johnson (7th in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Davidson: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
USC: Jeff Withey (4th in Keegan ratings)
Howard: Kevin Young (4th in Keegan ratings)
North Dakota: Elijah Johnson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Tyshawn Taylor (5th in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Travis Releford (7th in Keegan ratings)
Average: 2.9th in Keegan ratings

Jesse Newell
Towson: Conner Teahan (6th in Keegan ratings)
Kentucky: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
Georgetown: Kevin Young (9th in Keegan ratings)
UCLA: Elijah Johnson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Duke: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
FAU: Tyshawn Taylor (7th in Keegan ratings)
South Florida: Elijah Johnson (6th in Keegan ratings)
Long Beach State: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Travis Releford (5th in Keegan ratings)
Davidson: Jeff Withey (5th in Keegan ratings)
USC: Elijah Johnson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Howard: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
North Dakota: Conner Teahan (5th in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Travis Releford (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Elijah Johnson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Travis Releford (2nd in Keegan ratings
Iowa State: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Kevin Young (9th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Travis Releford (5th in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Conner Teahan (6th in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Kevin Young (8th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Travis Releford (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Kevin Young (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Jeff Withey (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Travis Releford (6th in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Jeff Withey (6th in Keegan ratings)
Average: 4th in Keegan ratings

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Reasons for KU fans to not be scared, admiration for OSU’s Keiton Page, and predictions for Monday’s game

Jesse Newell: Welcome back to the GameDay Cram Session, as Kansas is taking on Oklahoma State on Monday night in Stillwater, Okla.

As coach at Kansas, Bill Self is 1-3 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. KU is coming off an emotional, overtime comeback victory against its chief rival and guaranteed itself at least a share of the Big 12 title.

Playing without injured freshman Le'Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State in its last game scored its biggest Big 12 margin of victory, beating Texas A&M by 18 points. Earlier in the schedule, the Cowboys defeated Missouri.

Some might say this has classic signs of a trap game. Tom, tell us something about Oklahoma State that could ease the anxiety of KU fans.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor passes through a trap by Oklahoma State defenders Markel Brown, left, and Brian Williams during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor passes through a trap by Oklahoma State defenders Markel Brown, left, and Brian Williams during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Tom Keegan: The Cowboys haven't won two games in a row since the first week of December. Their full-court pressure did give Kansas fits in the game in Allen Fieldhouse, but Kansas will be ready for that this time.

JN: Another reason KU fans might be able to breathe a little easier: Oklahoma State probably won't be grabbing many rebounds.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson wrestles for a rebound amidst the Oklahoma State defense during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson wrestles for a rebound amidst the Oklahoma State defense during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

In the teams' first matchup on Feb. 11, KU outrebounded OSU, 50-21. The Jayhawks grabbed more than half of their missed shots (52 percent) while the Cowboys came away with offensive rebounds on just 13 percent of their misses.

OSU's rebounding numbers should be better than that Monday night, but I'd still expect KU to dominate that category. To make up for that, the Cowboys will either have to make a lot of threes, get to the free throw line a ton or create a lot of KU turnovers.

The free throw line — OSU had 56 free throws in a 90-78 home win over Texas, tying the second-most in an NCAA game this season — is probably the Cowboys' best bet.

Tom, what do you like best about OSU's 5-foot-9 point guard, Keiton Page?

Oklahoma State guard Keiton Page knocks the ball away from Kansas guard Josh Selby during the first half on Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Oklahoma State guard Keiton Page knocks the ball away from Kansas guard Josh Selby during the first half on Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

TK: I like what a fearless competitor he is. In the layup line, he doesn't look as if he belongs. In the game, he proves he does. I like how he has become noticeably better in each of his four seasons in Stillwater. His scoring averages, starting with his freshman season: 8.6, 10.7, 13.2, 16.2. Starting with his 19-point effort in a 15-point loss in Lawrence, Page has averaged 25.2 points and averaged five three-pointers. He followed a 40-point game against Texas with 29 points against Oklahoma.

JN: He's also the only senior that will be honored in Monday's Senior Night ceremonies, so this game should be special for him regardless.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson watches as Oklahoma State guard Keiton Page puts up a three during the second half on Thursday, March 10, 2011 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson watches as Oklahoma State guard Keiton Page puts up a three during the second half on Thursday, March 10, 2011 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. by Nick Krug

But you're right ... he's been playing especially well offensively as of late. Since the KU game, he's made 21 of 43 three-pointers (49 percent) and 26 of 28 free throws (93 percent) in four games.

Page was held to 19 points on 5-for-16 shooting in his first game this year against KU. The Jayhawks would certainly take that kind of a defensive performance against the senior Monday night.

All right, Tom, what's your prediction for this game?

TK: Kansas by 6.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson pulls his teammates together during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson pulls his teammates together during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

It's a tough turnaround for Kansas, emotionally drained from Saturday's game, but the desire to clinch the outright Big 12 title and continue to hunt a No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed should be ample motivation to pull out the victory.

JN: I'll take KU by 11.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson swoops into the lane under Oklahoma State forward Le'Bryan Nash as the Jayhawks work against a zone defense during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson swoops into the lane under Oklahoma State forward Le'Bryan Nash as the Jayhawks work against a zone defense during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Outside of Page, OSU just doesn't have many playmakers offensively, especially with Le'Bryan Nash most likely sitting out with a fractured hand.

As I mentioned above, I think the rebounding disparity will be hard for OSU to make up. This isn't a Cowboys team that forces a lot of turnovers, so it'll most likely have to rely on making lots of shots and free throws.

That seems like a lot to ask for a team that made just eight of 24 field goals in the first half against KU while falling behind, 51-24, in a game 16 days ago.

OK, Tom, who's your Hawk to Rock?

TK: Travis Releford.

Kansas guard Travis Releford defends against Oklahoma State guard Cezar Guerrero during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Travis Releford defends against Oklahoma State guard Cezar Guerrero during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Against the two Big 12 schools from Oklahoma, Releford has made 19 of 25 shots (76 percent) and has made 4 of 7 three-pointers (57 percent). Against competition from all other states, Releford makes 46 percent overall and 32 percent on three-pointers. Whether it's red or orange, Releford tuns into a bull when he sees the word Oklahoma.

JN: Even with a bad wheel, Jeff Withey is my HTR.

Kansas center Jeff Withey looks for an outlet after rejecting a shot by Oklahoma State guard Keiton Page during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey looks for an outlet after rejecting a shot by Oklahoma State guard Keiton Page during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

OSU is another team that does not match up well against him, and the 7-footer had 18 points, 20 rebounds and seven blocks in the first matchup.

Self said earlier Monday that expected Withey to start against OSU with his ankle injury.

Because the Cowboys have only one player close to his height (reserve Philip Jurick), this sets up to be another impressive statistical night for Withey.

Give me double-digit points and rebounds for the KU junior.

Predictions tally (through 28 games)
Tom: 23-6 record, 273 points off (9.4 points off/game)
Jesse: 26-3 record, 236 points off (8.1 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock

Tom Keegan
Towson: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Kentucky: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Georgetown: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
UCLA: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Duke: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
FAU: Jeff Withey (4th in Keegan ratings)
South Florida: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Long Beach State: Elijah Johnson (7th in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Davidson: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
USC: Jeff Withey (4th in Keegan ratings)
Howard: Kevin Young (4th in Keegan ratings)
North Dakota: Elijah Johnson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Tyshawn Taylor (5th in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Tyshawn Taylor (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Thomas Robinson (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Average: 2.8th in Keegan ratings

Jesse Newell
Towson: Conner Teahan (6th in Keegan ratings)
Kentucky: Elijah Johnson (4th in Keegan ratings)
Georgetown: Kevin Young (9th in Keegan ratings)
UCLA: Elijah Johnson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Duke: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
FAU: Tyshawn Taylor (7th in Keegan ratings)
South Florida: Elijah Johnson (6th in Keegan ratings)
Long Beach State: Thomas Robinson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Ohio State: Travis Releford (5th in Keegan ratings)
Davidson: Jeff Withey (5th in Keegan ratings)
USC: Elijah Johnson (1st in Keegan ratings)
Howard: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
North Dakota: Conner Teahan (5th in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Travis Releford (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Elijah Johnson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Travis Releford (2nd in Keegan ratings
Iowa State: Thomas Robinson (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Kevin Young (9th in Keegan ratings)
Texas: Travis Releford (5th in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Tyshawn Taylor (1st in Keegan ratings)
Iowa State: Jeff Withey (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma: Conner Teahan (6th in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Kevin Young (8th in Keegan ratings)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (1st in Keegan ratings)
Oklahoma State: Tyshawn Taylor (4th in Keegan ratings)
Kansas State: Travis Releford (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas Tech: Kevin Young (4th in Keegan ratings)
Texas A&M: Jeff Withey (2nd in Keegan ratings)
Missouri: Travis Releford (6th in Keegan ratings)
Average: 3.9th in Keegan ratings

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