Advertisement

How the Jayhawks' February resurgence compares with nation's best teams

Advertisement

Kansas guard Marcus Garrett (0) pops the ball away from Baylor guard Mark Vital (11) during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Marcus Garrett (0) pops the ball away from Baylor guard Mark Vital (11) during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

In the business of college basketball, whether your team has been flexing all season or took a detour on the struggle bus at some point, it better be trending upward when March rolls around, because what transpires in the postseason is what everyone will remember anyway.

That’s why there is more intrigue surrounding Kansas now than at any point during this strange 2020-21 season. The Jayhawks are coming off as good a February as almost any team in the country (especially considering how poorly their January went).

“This team, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’ve kind of been up and down this year,” KU coach Bill Self joked while addressing the Allen Fieldhouse crowd after his team’s chef’s kiss of a win over previously undefeated Baylor. “I think we’re just now finding our stride. I think we’re just scratching the surface of what we can become.”

The hope inside the KU locker room is that the Jayhawks can launch into the final stretch of the calendar — and the NCAA Tournament, when the first round begins on March 19 — still flying high on the momentum of a 7-2 February and an eye-catching win over Baylor, arguably the best win on any team’s résumé at this juncture.

Looking around at the national landscape, the Jayhawks have to feel better about their current level of play than many teams. Among the consensus top teams in the country, only No. 1 Gonzaga (7-0), the overwhelming favorite to win it all, and Michigan (5-0) got through February unscathed.

To get a better sense of how KU’s past month stacks up with other programs, have a look at how each team ranked in the top 20 at KenPom.com entering March fared (see full list below).

The Jayhawks are one of a handful of under the radar teams that appear to be surging right on time. In February, Loyola Chicago went 7-1, West Virginia went 6-1 (and easily beat KU on Feb. 6), and both Arkansas and San Diego State posted a perfect 6-0 mark for the month.

To be fair, the Jayhawks can’t yet be in the same discussion as Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan, Iowa and other Final Four contenders. Their inconsistent season makes it impossible to blindly overlook the issues that led to their stock plummeting in January, when they went 3-5. For observers, those seeds of doubt can not be forgotten.

For the players, though, KU’s resurgence in the win column is just what they needed to elevate their confidence and complement their vastly improved team defense.

“We’re not done,” senior guard Marcus Garrett said during his Senior Night speech, after the Jayhawks beat Baylor, 71-58. “We’re not done at all. We want a long season here.”

The Jayhawks’ successful reboot during February sure makes an extended stay in Indiana later this month seem a lot more realistic.

How KenPom’s top 20 teams fared in February

No. 1 Gonzaga — 7-0

Best wins: at BYU, at Pacific, at San Francisco, Saint Mary’s

Losses: none

No. 2 Michigan — 5-0

Best wins: at Wisconsin, at Ohio State, at Indiana, Rutgers, Iowa

Losses: none

No. 3 Baylor — 2-1

Best win: at Texas

Loss: at Kansas

No. 4 Houston — 5-2

Best win: at South Florida

Losses: at East Carolina, at Wichita State

No. 5 Iowa — 6-3

Best wins: at Michigan State, at Wisconsin, at Ohio State, Michigan State, Rutgers, Penn State

Losses: Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan

No. 6 Illinois — 7-1

Best wins: at Indiana (OT), at Nebraska (OT), at Minnesota, at Wisconsin

Loss: Michigan State

No. 7 Ohio State — 4-3

Best wins: at Iowa, at Maryland, at Penn State, Indiana

Losses: Michigan, at Michigan State, Iowa

No. 8 Alabama — 5-2

Best wins: at South Carolina, at Mississippi State, LSU

Losses: at Missouri, at Arkansas

No. 9 Florida State — 4-1

Best wins: Virginia, at Pittsburgh

Loss: at North Carolina

No. 10 Villanova — 4-3

Best wins: Marquette, Connecticut, St. John’s

Losses: at St. John’s, at Creighton, at Butler

No. 11 Loyola Chicago — 7-1

Best wins: at Missouri State, Drake

Loss: at Drake (OT)

No. 12 Wisconsin — 3-4

Best wins: at Nebraska, at Northwestern, Penn State

Losses: at Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois

No. 13 Virginia — 4-3

Best wins: at North Carolina State, at Georgia Tech, North Carolina

Losses: at Florida State, at Duke, North Carolina State

No. 14 Purdue — 4-2

Best wins: at Nebraska, at Penn State, Northwestern, Michigan State

Losses: at Maryland, at Minnesota

No. 15 Creighton — 4-2

Best wins: at Marquette, at Georgetown, Villanova

Losses: Georgetown, at Xavier

No. 16 Colorado — 6-2

Best wins: at Stanford, at Oregon State, Arizona, USC, UCLA

Losses: at Cal, at Oregon

No. 17 West Virginia — 6-1

Best wins: at Texas Tech, at Texas, at TCU, Kansas

Loss: Oklahoma (2OT)

No. 18 Arkansas — 6-0

Best wins: at Kentucky, at Missouri (OT), Mississippi State, Florida, Alabama, LSU

Losses: none

No. 19 Kansas — 7-2

Best wins: Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Baylor

Losses: at West Virginia, at Texas (OT)

No. 20 San Diego State — 6-0

Best wins: Boise State (OT), Boise State

Losses: none

Comments

Dirk Medema 1 month, 1 week ago

Is there a criteria for “Best Wins”? Top 50? 75? 100? Some of those opponents seem to fall short of the quality opponent mark.

And Iowa, while higher ranked, is one of the top 10 teams with a record similar to our’s. They also have a loss to IU.

Armen Kurdian 1 month, 1 week ago

Well, we are what, 6-8 vs AP top 25, and all losses have been in Quadrant 1?

Ochai & CB are going to have to hit about 4-5 more treys per game if we are to go deep.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.