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Self Madness 2020: Semifinals

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Self Madness 2020

Self Madness 2020 by Matt Tait

And then there were four. And, go figure, the four teams still standing in our Self Madness bracket are the four top seeds, three Final Four teams and this season’s squad, which would’ve entered March Madness as the No. 1 overall seed and the favorite to win it all.

The Round 2 voting was a little more interesting and entertaining than the Sweet 16, but all of the outcomes were still pretty decisive.

None more so than the 2007-08 title team’s beatdown of the team that came before it, 2006-07.

Nearly 4,500 votes were cast in the second round of the Self Madness bracket and not one of them went to the 2006-07 team that reached the Elite Eight and lost to UCLA.

Zero.

If you think about it, it makes sense. Not only were most of those players on the 2007-08 roster returning from the ’06-’07 team with another year of experience, but they also won it all and were the class of the first and only Final Four to feature all four No. 1 seeds.

Julian Wright and a slightly different starting lineup was the major difference between the two teams. But Sherron Collins and Darrell Arthur as sophomores instead of freshmen, along with the emergence of Darnell Jackson in a starting role, also made that 2008 team so much tougher than the crazy-good group that came before it.

The 4-5 matchup between 2011-12 and 2009-10 was the closest of the second round, with T-Rob, Tyshawn and the gang topping senior Sherron Collins and junior Cole Aldrich with 61% of the vote.

The 2017-18 Final Four team led by Devonte’ Graham and company easily reached the Self Madness semis by taking their matchup with 69% of the vote against the Morris twins and the 2010-11 team.

And, in what I thought might be the best matchup of Round 2, the 2019-20 team trounced the Frank Mason, Devonte’ Graham, Josh Jackson team of 2016-17, by earning 73% of the vote.

No surprise there, given how strongly people felt about the current squad and how the season ended, but, if that were played in real life, that would be an absolute battle.

So the Final Four is set. It’s No. 1 2007-08 vs. the 2011-12 Final Four team on one half of the bracket. And the 2017-18 squad against the current team on the other side.

Here’s a quick look at those matchups and the bracket to vote in. If you haven’t already, be sure to enter to win the $500 prize from Truity Credit Union.

1. 2007-08 • 37-3

The deepest and most balanced team Self has had at KU not only won six straight games in the 2008 NCAA Tournament to give Self his first title, but it also was the last team standing at the only Final Four to date that featured all four No. 1 seeds. Led by four players in double figures in scoring — Brandon Rush (13.3), Mario Chalmers (12.8), Darrell Arthur (12.8), Darnell Jackson (11.2) — and a fifth who was right there in sophomore Sherron Collins (9.3), the 2007-08 Jayhawks had terrific talent, ideal chemistry and the players who filled their roles to perfection. After rolling to 20 wins to open the season, the Jayhawks won the Big 12 regular season crown, the Big 12 tournament title and reached the Final Four by rolling past Portland State and UNLV in Omaha, Neb., and Villanova and a Steph-Curry-led Davidson team in Detroit. From there, Kansas clobbered Roy Williams and North Carolina and knocked off John Calipari’s Memphis Tigers, 75-68 in overtime, after Chalmers’ miracle shot saved KU in regulation.

vs.

No. 4 • 2011-12 • 32-7

Who could ever forget Thomas Robinson’s monster junior season, filled with double-doubles (he averaged 17.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game) and wild finishes? Or his running mate, Tyshawn Taylor (16.6 ppg), whose speed, toughness and play-making ability helped lead this team all the way to the national title game against Kentucky in New Orleans. That dynamic duo took the Jayhawks on a wild ride through the NCAA Tournament, that featured KU barely surviving Round 2 against Purdue and intense battles with North Carolina State, North Carolina and Ohio State in the three rounds that followed. Joined in the starting lineup by Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and swat king Jeff Withey, these Jayhawks were one of Self’s thinnest teams — sharp-shooter Conner Teahan and electric forward Kevin Young were the only other two who played consistent minutes — but also one of the toughest. Never was that more evident than in the final Border War game with Missouri at Allen Fieldhouse, where Kansas came back from 19 points down to send off their rival to the SEC in dramatic fashion late in the season.

NO. 1 vs. NO. 4 MATCHUP

Starting Five

2007-08

Russell Robinson, Sr.

Mario Chalmers, Jr.

Brandon Rush, Jr.

Darrell Arthur, Soph.

Darnell Jackson, Sr.

2011-12

Tyshawn Taylor, Sr.

Elijah Johnson, Jr.

Travis Releford, Jr.

Thomas Robinson, Jr.

Jeff Withey, Jr.

Top Reserves

2007-08

Sherron Collins, Soph.

Sasha Kaun, Sr.

Cole Aldrich, Fr.

2011-12

Conner Teahan, Sr.

Kevin Young, Jr.

Justin Wesley, Soph.

KenPom.com Comparison

2007-08

Final Ranking: No. 1

Offensive Efficiency: 2nd

Defensive Efficiency: 1st

Strength of Schedule: 14th

2011-12

Final Ranking: No. 4

Offensive Efficiency: 23rd

Defensive Efficiency: 3rd

Strength of Schedule: 1st

Statistical Comparison

2007-08

Points Per Game: 80.5 (13th)

Points Allowed Per Game: 61.5 (21st)

FG Percentage: 50.8 (2nd)

3-point Percentage: 39.7 (15th)

Rebounding Margin: +7.9

2011-12

Points Per Game: 73.5 (48th)

Points Allowed Per Game: 61.7 (44th)

FG Percentage: 47.2 (31st)

3-point Percentage: 34.5 (157th)

Rebounding Margin: +2.9


No. 2 • 2019-20 • 28-3

There’s no telling if this year’s team would have brought a banner back to Allen Fieldhouse or not, but Self, along with dozens of national college basketball analysts, have said they thought this group had as good a shot as anybody to win it all. This group featured a trio of difference makers — on both ends of the floor — and was backed by a solid supporting cast that knew its role and knew how and when to play it. Big 12 Player of the Year and double-double machine Udoka Azubuike (13.7 points, 10.5 rebounds) was the biggest problem. Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Garrett was the glue that held everything together on both ends of the court. And prolific point guard Devon Dotson led the Big 12 in scoring (18.1 ppg) and earned all-Big 12 and All-American honors from several outlets. A year after watching the Big 12 title streak come to an end, the Jayhawks climbed back on top of the conference with the best record in the history of the Big 12 (17-1) and ended the season on a 16-game winning streak.

vs.

No. 3 • 2017-18 • 31-8

Arguably the best offensive team Self has ever coached at KU, the 2017-18 Jayhawks embraced all the aesthetically captivating aspects of living that four-guard life. KU surrounded 7-foot sophomore center Udoka Azubuike (13 points per game, 77% field goal percentage) with sharpshooting senior guards Devonte’ Graham (17.3 points, 40.6% on 3-pointers) and Svi Mykhailiuk (14.6 points, 44.4% 3-pointers), as well as Malik Newman (14.2 points, 41.5% 3-pointers) and Lagerald Vick (12.1 points, 37.3% 3-pointers). With a virtually unstoppable center in Azubuike, and always-confident floor-stretching guards around him, KU shot 49.2% from the floor overall, went 391-for-974 on 3-pointers (40.1%) and put up 81.4 points per game en route to the program’s 14th straight Big 12 title and a run to the Final Four. A No. 1 seed in the Midwest in 2018, the Jayhawks, led by consensus All-American Graham, went through Penn, Seton Hall, Clemson and Duke before meeting their match against eventual champion Villanova in San Antonio.

NO. 2 vs. NO. 3 MATCHUP

Starting Five

2019-20

Devon Dotson, Soph.

Isaiah Moss, Sr.

Ochai Agbaji, Soph.

Marcus Garrett, Jr.

Udoka Azubuike, Sr.

2017-18

Devonte’ Graham, Sr.

Malik Newman, Soph.

Lagerald Vick, Jr.

Svi Mykhailiuk, Sr.

Udoka Azubuike, Soph.

Top Reserves

2019-20

David McCormack, Soph.

Christian Braun, Fr.

Tristan Enaruna, Fr.

2017-18

Marcus Garrett, Fr.

Mitch Lightfoot, Soph.

Silvio De Sousa, Fr.

KenPom.com Comparison

2019-20

Final Ranking: No. 1

Offensive Efficiency: 8th

Defensive Efficiency: 2nd

Strength of Schedule: 2nd

2017-18

Final Ranking: No. 9

Offensive Efficiency: 5th

Defensive Efficiency: 47th

Strength of Schedule: 2nd

Statistical Comparison

2019-20

Points Per Game: 74.6 (88th)

Points Allowed Per Game: 60.7 (10th)

FG Percentage: 48.4 (9th)

3-point Percentage: 34.4 (117th)

Rebounding Margin: +6.6

2017-18

Points Per Game: 81.4 (29th)

Points Allowed Per Game: 71.9 (160th)

FG Percentage: 49.2 (12th)

3-point Percentage: 40.1 (11th)

Rebounding Margin: +0.4

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