Advertisement

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Kansas basketball lands No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament’s Midwest region

Jayhawks to open Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas against First Four winner

The Kansas bench erupts after a made three-pointer by reserve Michael Jankovich (20) with seconds remaining in the game on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021 at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City.

The Kansas bench erupts after a made three-pointer by reserve Michael Jankovich (20) with seconds remaining in the game on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021 at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City.

Advertisement

The Kansas men’s basketball team was one of four programs to receive a No. 1 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday, bringing the Jayhawks’ total to 15 1 seeds all-time and nine in 18 tournaments under head coach Bill Self.

It marks the first time since 2018 that Kansas (28-6) has been seeded on the top line, and the Jayhawks will open this year’s tournament run at 8:57 p.m. Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas, on TruTV against the winner of Tuesday’s First Four game between No. 16 seeds Texas Southern and Texas A&M; Corpus Christi.

Kansas is 39-13 all-time as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and 14-0 all-time against No. 16 seeds.

While Self will be the first to tell you that seeds don’t matter anywhere near as much as how a team plays in the Big Dance, he did admit on Sunday that the program’s run of success leading up to the NCAA Tournament each year impressed even him.

“I listened to (Gonzaga coach Mark) Few the other day and he was talking about how proud he was of his program for getting a 1 seed for like the fifth time in seven years or whatnot, which he should be,” Self said following the release of this year’s bracket. “And then someone told me this would be our 10th in 16. That’s pretty good. That’s pretty strong. Although seeds don’t matter once you get them. You’ve got to go play. I’m happy that we can say that, but I’d be much happier playing well in the tournament.”

Self referenced the number 10 because all signs pointed to the Jayhawks having been the overall No. 1 seed in 2020 before the tournament was canceled at the outset of the pandemic.

Jumping back on the 1 line after a forgettable and historic second-round exit in Indianapolis a season ago has the Jayhawks poised for a deeper run this time around.

“Being a 1 seed comes with the good and the bad,” sophomore wing Jalen Wilson said Sunday. “Because now you’ve got everybody gunning for you. We’re used to getting everybody’s best shot anyways, but now it’s a big target on our back. We’ve just got to represent it well and show why we are a 1 seed.”

The strength of KU’s overall resume certainly had something to do with that. In addition to winning a share of the Big 12’s regular season title and the Big 12 tournament trophy, the Jayhawks finished the pre-NCAA Tournament portion of their season with 12 Quad 1 wins, the most in NCAA Division I.

No. 3 seed Tennessee had 11. Fellow-top-seeds Gonzaga and Baylor had 10 and the fourth No. 1 seed, Arizona, had six.

While those numbers were important for the committee and KU’s case for the 1 line, the Jayhawks themselves believe the entirety of their season has prepared them for the pressure that comes with being one of the favorites to reach a Final Four.

“I think we’ve had the games that we needed to show us what we’re going to have to go through in March Madness,” Wilson said Sunday. “1 seeds, 2 seeds, 3 seeds, it doesn’t matter in the tournament. It’s just whoever plays best that game.”

Self said he was happy with the draw the Jayhawks got, but more from the standpoint of being in the Midwest region and starting in Fort Worth, near a big alumni base like Dallas, than anything else.

“I never love our draw,” he said. “And I probably don’t this year either. But I don’t hate it. It’s going to be hard regardless.”

Like with any year, Self said his team would approach the NCAA Tournament like a series of two-game tournaments. He admitted that it’s human nature to look at the bracket as a whole and see who landed where and how roads and paths for other programs might have played out. But after that first glance, he won’t look at it again.

“I’m looking at three teams,” Self said. “The winner of the game Tuesday (between Texas Southern and Texas A&M; Corpus Christi) and (the 8-9 game between) San Diego State and Creighton. And then next week we’ll go on to another two-game tournament. That’s how I’ll look at it. You’re going to be playing somebody good no matter what.

“I’m not even going to get into how we matchup the second weekend until we take care of business the first weekend. And there’s still a lot of work to do before that occurs.”

While this year’s Kansas roster features several new faces, there are a handful of players who were a part of that 2019-20 team that appeared to be in position to make a real run at a national title. Guys like Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun and David McCormack were role players on that team, but they were there to experience it nonetheless. And it hurt them just as bad as it hurt that team’s stars like Udoka Azubuike, Devon Dotson and Marcus Garrett, when the tournament was canceled.

Last year brought the tournament back but the Jayhawks were still in a bubble setting and COVID was still a big part of the experience. This year, Self said, feels more like a normal year and he’s looking forward to seeing what those guys, along with the newcomers, can do with it.

“I don’t think anybody on our team has experienced what the NCAA Tournament can potentially be like, even if they’ve participated in it,” Self said Sunday. “We haven’t really given it a great run in the tournament since ’18. In order to experience what it’s really like to play here, you need to do well in the tournament. I’m looking forward (to that) and hopeful that happens.”

———

Enter our 2022 NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge HERE for a chance to win $500.

Comments

Benjamin Shear 3 months, 3 weeks ago

First take: Auburn is our #2 seed. I was hoping for Kentucky. Although it would be nice to get a revenge game against Auburn after the 2019 tournament. I'm not a fan of us playing the play-in opponent. Our eventual opponent will have some momentum and it gives us less time to scout (while they know the whole time they will play us). It really won't matter, but it's still not my favorite.

I'm surprised Oklahoma didn't make the tournament. Hard to make a case they weren't one of the best 64 teams in the country, even with automatic qualifiers.

Tony Bandle 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Random Thoughts:

1] I will be shocked if the Hawks don't make the Sweet Sixteen.

2] Also, I will be pretty disappointed if they don't make the Elite Eight.

3] After that, it's a toss up.

4] The picks are Wisconsin or Iowa to come out of the Midwest. [ Bryce may have a comment about that ] :}.

5] I thought it was kind of cool that the Jayhawks were the only school that didn't jump out of their chairs and mug for the camera when their name was called. It's like they expected to be there...quite classy.

6] I think Dayton got screwed!

Rodney Crain 3 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree. They have a much better chance then Baylor to get to the FF.

Jump> Nah we have been here before. I caught that too, the only thing missing in that clip was them wearing sunglass's and a red cup in their hands as they are relaxing. LOL

Bryce Landon 3 months, 3 weeks ago

I don't care about Iowa basketball, only Iowa football.

That said, I have Kansas facing Iowa in my bracket and beating them in the Sweet 16.

Len Shaffer 3 months, 3 weeks ago

That's right, Bryce. It's good to always remind people that you're a front-runner, not a true Jayhawk fan.

Bryce Landon 3 months, 3 weeks ago

It's always good to remind people that I'm smarter than the rest of you who insist on following a losing program that's never going to amount to anything.

Blake Brown 3 months, 3 weeks ago

First impression: How is it that Baylor says in state and plays in Fort Worth and we travel to FW? And if we get out of there, go to Chicago? Second impression: too much love for the Big Ten. OU has to get in before Michigan, Rutgers and even MSU. Lastly, let's just dominate and win it and forget about all of the other stuff.

Matt Gauntt 3 months, 3 weeks ago

There are a TON of KU alum in Chicago. It will be a favorable crowd.

Stuart Swaziek 3 months, 3 weeks ago

True dat. We got a crap ton of Jayhawkers in Chi-town. I'll be there coming down from Brew City with a bunch of Milwaukee Rock Chalkers.

Blake Brown 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Additional thoughts: I'm adding Indiana to the list above re OU. Also, Coach said he thinks it's good to get far enough away from home that the team is more isolated; so, he's OK with going to FW..... I`m a believer after these last 3 games. I think we can go deep in the tourney. We are much tougher and Remi gives us more offense and depth. Our league played tough with lots of hand and body checking bc they could. Officials from other parts of the country may not allow all of that and if so, it changes how we play and could turn it into a free throw contest. Hopefully, the players decide who wins.

RJ King 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Totally agree with the WAY the refs will call the game. It can make the foul calls seem unbalanced. It's not (if it's called both ways.) But KU will need to recognize and adjust if the style does not favor their style of play.

Keith Gellar 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Couldn't have asked for an easier bracket given what all the other 1 seeds were dealt!

THIS IS IT!!! We have faced enough adversity this year. We have faced all sorts of situations (bad FT shooting, 3s not falling, OA not firing on all cylinders, etc.) and have figured out a way to squeak a win. This team is as ready as we will be.

At this point - Its Final 4 or Bust and if we don't make it, its going to be 1000% on self. He's seen enough instances of bad bball and has the bench to sub out as needed. If we don't make it to the FF4, it is going to be becuase of Self's irrational love for a player and keeping him in despite the player's performance.

Robert Lofthouse 3 months, 3 weeks ago

How many NCAA tournament teams have you led to victory Keith?

Keith Gellar 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Lol..don't even know what this question means or how to respond to it? But i'll take a stab.

If i were a coach of Bill Self's caliber and his pay at a blueblood, i can tell you i would have more than one championship.

My question to you- How many people do you NOT blindly follow Robert?

Rodney Crain 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Got a great bracket. We are playing fairly well right now, got to like our chances.

Bryce Landon 3 months, 3 weeks ago

The Selection Committee has a sick, twisted sense of humor. They know we've gone 0-4 when playing in Texas this year. So what do they do? They send us to Fort Worth, Texas - to play a Texas-based school! Whether the opponent is Texas Southern or Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, they've given the 16-seed a virtual home game against us! What, they couldn't send us to Indianapolis or Milwaukee for first weekend games? Come on!

Also, look who else is in our region - Auburn and Southern California. Yes, the two teams that ass-blasted us the last two tournaments. It's like the NCAA is mocking us with the bracket they gave us!

All I can say is, we better find a way to get to the Final Four, because who knows what sort of sanctions we're going to get when the IARP finally gets around to dealing with us!

Kit Duncan 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Really? You think the committee actually chose to put KU in Ft Worth playing a Texas school because they lost all four games they played in Texas this season? If the committee really had it in for KU, they would have put Kentucky in the 2 spot.

Jonathan Allison 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Fort Worth will very pro KU against either TX Southern or TAMUCC. Sure the casual fans in the arena will pull for the underdog just like they always will regardless of the opponent, but the KU faithful will come out strong in Fort Worth as DFW is one of the largest KU alumni bases outside of Kansas City, and it's relatively easily driveable from Lawrence.

RJ King 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Bryce - your conspiracy theories are showing. That's just simply NOT the way the selection committee works. (Too long to explain, but I know this firsthand/secondhand.)

Mallory Briggans 3 months, 3 weeks ago

wouldnt that be a great recruiting video ............the team chilling in their comfortable leather chairs with the video titled BECAUSE WE ACT LIKE WE"VE BEEN THERE BEFORE

Tim Orel 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Shorten that to "Because we've been here before."

Barry Weiss 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Seth Greenberg, ESPN, has KU winning until they face Iowa. Greenberg is ALWAYS down on KU. Whatever. He also picked Texas Tech to beat us Saturday...

RJ King 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Barry, Actually, these are the only two times I can recall that Greenberg has not favored KU. As long as I have watched him (8-10 years?), he has always been VERY pro Kansas.

3 months, 3 weeks ago

what a year for the guys. after that tcu loss we coulda blew a 2 seed as well. pulled it together & now we look like an actual 1 seed. if there were any year to do it, looks like this would be the one. look for zach clemence to break out. rcjh

Tony Bandle 3 months, 3 weeks ago

I'd say the odds of Bill Self letting Zach "break out" during an NCAA run are about a bazillion to one!

Dale Rogers 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Foul trouble for big Dave and the injury to Lightfoot could put Clemence into the spotlight. I'm hoping we don't have to do that but, instead, can get him experienced when the game is not on the line.

Dirk Medema 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Zach could be this year’s Cole v.’08.

It’s not necessarily a matter of letting him, as it is needing. Say we face a team with a 5 that can make 3’s off of picks. Hmmmm, that sounds familiar.

RJ King 3 months, 3 weeks ago

I had also thought of the Aldrich comparison late this season. Zac seems a little thinner than when Cole turned it on vs Carolina, but perhaps my memories are fading.

Dirk Medema 3 months, 3 weeks ago

And for all those already blaming Coach Self for not having more than one title, there are only two current coaches that fit that description. Coach K will be gone after this year, which leaves Jay Wright as the only active coach with more than one title. There’s almost no one better than Coach Self.

Len Shaffer 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Well said, Dirk. And you can also add the fact that there's a huge amount of luck involved in a one-and-done tourney. I mean what if Embiid had stayed healthy and what if we had played in 2020, just to cite two examples.

Chad Smith 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Great points Len. Only one team cuts it down every year and it's really hard to play 6 good games in a row, no matter who you are. I believe in momentum only up to a certain point. I loved how KU played this past week. But the reason I'm believing in KU more right now is because of how composed and how focused on the task at hand they are/seem to be. I still believe 2020 KU would have gone to a final four at least. They were just dominant defensively and had two stars in Dotson and Doke. It's one of the best teams to never play for a championship.

RJ King 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Not to mention many eventual Final Four teams have had one or more high seeds knocked out in their region - thus an unexpected easier opponent in Games 2-4. We've had a few, but sure seems like it's happened often with others.

Brad Watson 3 months, 3 weeks ago

One step at at a time...one game at a time...no reason to ever look ahead...68 teams...67 will lose....so blinders on...total focus...Good luck!!!!

Jonathan Allison 3 months, 3 weeks ago

off topic, but someone mentioned rumors of looming IARP infractions decisions last week.

I just read an article about LSU's removal of Will Wade as head basketball coach and the evidence and allegations against him in the IARP's notice of allegations to LSU.

It sure sounded to me like the NCAA/IARP has a pretty clear cut case of impermissible benefits, etc. against Will Wade and LSU, particularly compared to the case that they have against Kansas.

The Kansas case is built around periphary individuals from Adidas et al making payments to parents/handlers of Billy Preston, Sylvio de Sousa, and potentially Kurtis Townsend suggesting paying the uncle of Zion Williamson. The bulk of the argument seems to be attempting to show that Bill Self and co had knowledge of or gave consent to these illegal activities by these third party individuals.

Only reason that I bring this up is that after reading the allegations against Will Wade it does give me a small degree of comfort knowing that KU has a much stronger case in countering the NCAA/IARP allegations than does LSU. LSU/Will Wade was extraordinarily sloppy in their recruiting and benefits offering practices, but unless they are the only ones who acted so brazenly with recruits/families of recruits then KU may come through this without being dealt with severely.

Adam Bengtson 3 months, 3 weeks ago

I have more faith in another pandemic hitting before the IARP submits a decision on anything.

Steve Zimmerman 3 months, 3 weeks ago

“1 seeds, 2 seeds, 3 seeds, it doesn’t matter in the tournament. It’s just whoever plays best that game.”

===== I'm pretty sure, whoever that can jack up 3s the most will dance to the top. So, if we attempt average of 20 3s in a game, and make only like 5 avg. Better not to think to go beyond 2nd round.

Matt, I'd like to see an article "how to beat KU" - not to aid our opponents, of course, but to better prepare our team. This article is exclusively for the coaching staff. Something like we notice during our games: charge calls when a player with the ball decides to pass, leaving Harris alone on the perimeter, etc.

Jonathan Allison 3 months, 3 weeks ago

not sure if you're being tongue-in-cheek with this comment, but you are right if KU doesn't shoot better than 25% from three then we will probably eventually face a hot shooting team that will beat us, a la VCU in 2011.

I believe that the coaching staff does their own research on KU's strengths and weaknesses. I could be wrong, but I am also pretty sure that they go over those types of things in film sessions on a regular basis. If this is not happening then we need to fire Bill Self immediately and find a real coach.

Steve Zimmerman 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Cross my heart, Jonathan. Since you named one, why not add USC, Nova. That's one way to beat KU, meaning we have to do better on defending the perimeter. Hopefully, they are more prepared this time. As Tony said, we shall see.

Tony Bandle 3 months, 3 weeks ago

KU has proven on a game by game basis that they CAN play elite defense, CAN pour in the threes, CAN out rebound anyone, CAN produce an overwhelming turnover ratio, CAN be almost perfect from the free throw line and on any given night CAN be unbeatable.

Their weakness is putting these all together in a game much less six in a row.

We shall see!

Steve Zimmerman 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Sure Tony. I'm with ya. Only with 'will to win' CAN they beat anyone! ROCK CHALK!!

Commenting has been disabled for this item.