Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Tom Keegan: Kansas isn’t the best bet in NCAA’s

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) wrestles away a ball from Oklahoma guard Jordan Woodard (10) and tosses it to Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) late in the third overtime, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) wrestles away a ball from Oklahoma guard Jordan Woodard (10) and tosses it to Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) late in the third overtime, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.


It’s as if the 19-point loss at Oklahoma State never happened in the minds of those who set odds, the bettors who move them, and the voters entrusted with ranking the nation’s top 25 college basketball teams. offers odds on winning the NCAA title, a tournament that concludes April 4th. The only school with a better chance to win it all than Kansas and Oklahoma, which both are listed at 7/1, is North Carolina at 13/2.

In the Associated Press college basketball poll, Kansas entered the week ranked No. 4 in the nation, behind Oklahoma, North Carolina and Iowa, in that order. In the USA Today coaches poll, Kansas is No. 3, behind No. 1 North Carolina and second-ranked Oklahoma.

Sure, Kansas likely will fall in the polls in the wake of a 13-point loss at Iowa State, but not as far it probably should. The Jayhawks have been so good for so long that force of habit on the part of the voters results in them being overrated.

Ditto for Duke and Kentucky.

The two worst bets on the are Kansas at 7/1 and Duke, which has lost four of its past five games, at 9/1. Names weigh almost as heavily in the equation as games. The louder a school’s tradition the more likely bettors are to ignore the facts and waste their hard-earned money. And at this point, let’s be brutally honest: Wagering on either Kansas or Duke to win the national title is about as losing a proposition as trying to catch the wind. The Jayhawks shouldn’t have to play with national-title pressure this season. It’s not fair to put that on them. They aren’t good enough. They should be allowed to play with free minds, unburdened by unrealistic expectations.

Conversely, the two best bets, given the inflated odds, come from the same state, the one crawling with presidential politicians at the moment. offers Iowa at the outrageous bargain of 15/1 and Iowa State at 35/1.

Iowa has the seventh-most efficient offense and 14th-most efficient defense in the nation, per

The Hawkeyes (16-3 overall, 7-0 in the Big Ten) start three seniors, measure 6-foot-6, 6-9, 7-1 across the front line and make 41 percent of their three-point shots. The Hawkeyes leveled No. 12 Michigan State by 12 and 17 points, No. 21 Purdue by seven and 12 points and No. 22 Wichita State by 23 points. Their losses came to No. 5 Notre Dame by six, at No. 14 Iowa State by one and vs. Dayton, the leading vote-getter among unranked teams, by five. This feels very much like the year of the Hawkeyes.


Suzi Marshall 6 years, 10 months ago

After the WUGs and the initial part of the season, thru OU home, I was convinced this team was a national title contender. But the past 5 games have been a jarring eye opener that necessitated a look back two years when Mason/Selden/Greene/ were freshmen and Ellis/Traylor were sophomores. Two years ago, TRel said this bunch was soft, which seem correct when the blew up in the Bahamas and several other games, including the season ending Stanford game. Sophomore year, more of the same with record defeat margins and another half-hearted NCAA loss to WSU. Then again this year, similar one-side defeats. Each year, this group ranked far below any other Self team in nearly every defensive metric.

The sad thing, for me atlas, it's taken me over 2 years to see this group is far below average, relative to their competition. OU/OSU/WVA/ISU were far superior in every way and at every perimeter position.

The only way for Kansas to become a solid bet in the NCAA Tournament is with the hope our best prospects (Mykailiuk/Bragg/Diallo) can come around. Mickelson was outstanding during the WUG and deserves a better shot at the 5. Mason and Selden need a spell on the bench until they get over whatever ails them.

Jared Reeves 6 years, 10 months ago

This team has improved so little over the past 3 years it is sad. Sure the players are marginally better, but not what one should expect if we do indeed have a hall of fame coach.

Marius Rowlanski 6 years, 10 months ago

At the beginning of the season, I would have thought those odds were fairly accurate. I don't think we were underrated I think we have underperformed. Now at this point in the season, I'm not sure if it can be corrected.

I'm certainly not ready to give up on this season, I just hope Self is up to fixing whatever it takes to do get us back on track.

Mike Riches 6 years, 10 months ago

"The Jayhawks shouldn’t have to play with national-title pressure this season. It’s not fair to put that on them. They aren’t good enough. They should be allowed to play with free minds, unburdened by unrealistic expectations."

In all fairness, the minute you put on a Kansas uniform, you are playing with National Title expectations. That's one of the main reasons kids come to Kansas! If they want to play with no pressure, they could sign with Emporia State!

Keith Gellar 6 years, 10 months ago

AMEN! KU and national title are synonymous. All the "free loaders" on this team need to leave....go play @ WSU or KSU where they have no expectations.

Joe Baker 6 years, 10 months ago

Sure, Kansas likely will fall in the polls in the wake of a 13-point loss at Iowa State, but not as far it probably should. The Jayhawks have been so good for so long that force of habit on the part of the voters results in them being overrated.

I think we've all been reluctant, but this is basically what many are saying with all their weeping, wailing, and gnashing of their teeth on the boards. I've been their biggest critic and can't exactly put my finger on the problem/s. However, we all know KU teams are capable of some strange surges when they are down for the count.

I'm not quite ready to stick a fork in them just yet. They have too much potential and talent. If they set their minds to it and shake this funk, they can do whatever they want. It's really up to them and we have to watch it unfold. I guess it's not over until the last game of the season for them. We can forget the NC right now. They need to salvage what they can of the B12. We'll be extremely lucky if we gain a share, which is looking more difficult by the game.

Benz Junque 6 years, 10 months ago

This team has between the ears problems, not talent problems. You can't make your roster more talented mid-season but you can get between the ear problems sorted out. If they can figure out how to play to their game plan and their abilities for a full 40 minutes like they did against OU instead of for just 25 minutes like they did against ISU then thy can make a deep tourney run.

If they keep waiting for someone else on the team to take the lead and fix things then they are doomed.

Robert Brock 6 years, 10 months ago

Face it - Coach Self needs to completely re-tool the offense. When the opposition turns up the intensity in the second half, there is way too much pressure on Perry Ellis and ultimately on Frank Mason to perform as The Lone Ranger.

I once thought that - by this time - Diallo would help in the front line and take some pressure off our guards; instead, since Diallo does not comprehend Self's offensive sets, he causes the entire offense to break down even worse.

With our little guards unable to stop dribble penetration, it is important that the offense be able to keep us in the big games. It ain't happening yet.

Scott Smetana 6 years, 10 months ago

Mickelson>Lucas>Traylor at the 5. Traylor has good heart, but is too small. Mickelson can actually score down low and is just as good as defender as Lucas.

William Weissbeck 6 years, 10 months ago

This is the same team from last year, just older. Somebody had to have a breakout year to change things - didn't happen, or Diallo was going to have to be a Okafor/Davis type game changer - not. These are recruiting mis-calculations from 3 years ago. Not to knock Perry Ellis, but he was already the mature man when he came on campus. Physically he just didn't change that much, so he never developed into a true power forward at the rim. He very much benefits with another big in the paint. Can someone remind me again why we didn't sign Buddy Hield or Van Fleet? I'm still hung up on Willie Cauley Stein. The state of Kansas had a national title team with purely home grown talent.

Rob Bedford III 6 years, 10 months ago

KU has the highest recruiting budget in the country. Do you think they are using that money to scout in state talent? They are only going after the big fish in other parts of the country and losing the battle to others schools. The scouting by KU has been terrible the last few years.

William Weissbeck 6 years, 10 months ago

But both Hield and Van Fleet were highly rated guards. Van Fleet was rated the best in Illinois. It's not like Self is opposed to short stature guards. I'm sure WSU alums think the same, what might have been.

Harlan Hobbs 6 years, 10 months ago

Good article. Iowa is clearly a strong dark horse in this race. They have all of the ingredients, and they are playing as well as anyone. Right now, my final four would be Oklahoma, Iowa, North Carolina, and Maryland. However, there is no clear dominant team, and there will likely be a large number of "upsets" in the tournament.

When all is said and done, I would expect KU to be a 3 or 4 seed at best unless we can turn it around on the road.

Kristen Downing 6 years, 10 months ago

This year is so wide open, I'm looking for teams that hustle the whole game, coaches that have different defenses in their arsenal and fan support no matter what. That criteria may present a dark horse winner this year.

Dale Koch 6 years, 10 months ago

Hate to say it but North Carolina will give Roy his 3rd title. I believe they are that good.

William Weissbeck 6 years, 10 months ago

I want to see how Louisville plays against UNC. They play mean, and have a dominating big man. Texas AM hasn't been on TV enough, but their game stats look good.

Justin Daniel 6 years, 10 months ago

Oklahoma is much better than the "streaky shooting" team that I pegged them for at the beginning of the season. They are a legit contender. Until the staff stops settling for average guard play, KU will continue to have an early exit. KU needs to get back to the 6'3'' long, athletic guards that can defend. Taylor and Johnson made their share of mistakes on the offensive end, but they could lock people out of the lane, just like Chalmers and Robinson. Heck Reed and Morningstar defended better than the guards we have now.

Barry Weiss 6 years, 10 months ago

I always felt good with Tyshawn out there. I know he had alot of detractors, but I like him.

Harlan Hobbs 6 years, 10 months ago

Good insights on Texas A&M and Louisville. They could certainly be in the mix. Also, agree with Kristen's observations about a dark horse winner this year. I suspect that most people's brackets will be busted by the Sweet Sixteen. I'm sure mine will because I'm not usually very good at picking the right upsets.

Lloyd Kinnison 6 years, 10 months ago

The play of the Jayhawks the last four games should be raising the possibility that this team MAY NOT BE INVITATED to participate in the NCAA finals! They have not played as a team that should be given the opportunity. There appears to be the lack of willingness to complete a game and win.

Marius Rowlanski 6 years, 10 months ago

"Kansas isn’t the best bet in NCAA’s"

As much as I enjoy your articles Tom, this title sounds like the beginning of a Capt. Obvious commercial.

Ben Kane 6 years, 10 months ago

Self's Jayhawk teams are always best when he has a rim protector on D to make up for guards getting beat. Diallo is the only guy on the team that qualifies as such but as long as our O is struggling like this he won't see the floor. I want to see to him and Bragg get more minutes this year because next year is all about them. As far as this year is concerned, I think we have a decent shot in the tournament because we are experienced and should come with top level energy for every game. My biggest concern is the lake of ability to put a team away, or as Self says, step on their throat.

William Weissbeck 6 years, 10 months ago

Our guys are too nice. I'd like to see Selden punch someone, or Mason get in someone's face. A good hard foul early in a game. Self needs Relaford and Robinson as assistant coaches. How did we go from the uncoachable Morris twins to this?

Kent Richardson 6 years, 10 months ago

20-11 going into the Big 12 tourney. Pretty good for a mid level team. Out of the top 25 and hoping for a 9 seed. Not unrealistic at all. We lose three home games this year. One or two wins in our tourney and bounced in the first of second round of the dance. We have half a heart now. We have 2 good games on offense and 8 down games on offense. Hope we can do better but it will more likely be painful for Self and the team.

Eric Barron 6 years, 10 months ago

Leadership is the key and it comes out, at least the lack thereof, when the going gets tough. I do believe that with such a short bench, that the minutes are beginning to pile up and we are seeing it in Mason and Seldo. I am still not sure what's wrong with Graham, but the two point guards may need to be re- visited. Two point guards means that each is looking for the other to spark and lead the team. Hopefully, Self will begin to finalize his rotation, but clearly something needs to be done.

Mike Taylor 6 years, 10 months ago

I don't know what to say about this team. its like a roller coaster. I will also agree that this team has the capability of turning it around but as of right now its a long shot. I'm not the one to doubt coach Self ability and knowledge of coaching but i think that Mason, Seldon. Graham and Ellis are completely worn out. The starting line up doesn't make sense to me AT ALL. i understand the concept of a 2 guard backcourt to beat pressing teams but at the end of the day our point guards barely are 6 feet tall. To me in my opinion the rotation should be this. starting lineup should be Mason and Seldon as the guards.Svi should be the small forward. . Ellis and Mickelson are your big men. You bring Graham and Green off the bench (though i think Vick should gets some minutes as well) as your guards and let Diallo and Lucas be the biggs. With Bragg having the ability to step out and knock down perimeter shots he is fast and athletic enough to even play the small forward position. Listen i love Traylor but from a scoring sense hes just a liability out there

Chad Smith 6 years, 10 months ago

How can anyone say it's time to give up on this team? That's so bandwagon. Come on, yes we have issues but every team is a work in progress. Yes, it'd be nice if our players played together better. Yes, it'd be great if more guys were capable and ready to play major minutes. But really it comes down to desire, poise and chemistry. All 3 of those areas leave much to be desired. But all 3 of those things can be improved on throughout the course of the season.

I think it's important that we have concerns, but we're still fully capable of playing well and having a fantastic season. The Big 12 is tough as nails this season. Why would we think it would be easy. We still have WVU, IState at HOME. We can beat Baylor on the road. We can beat Texas on the road. No team is running away with our league and no team will. It's too tough. I'm just hopeful all these games can help us get refocused.

I do think that a potential change in the starting line-up starting with the UK game this Saturday could help. But even so, there is still a lot of basketball left this season. A few bumps in the road is no reason to abandon all hope. You're not a true fan if you believe that.


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