Recap: March Madness strikes Kansas in round of 32


Games like this are why we love basketball, why March is mad and why our country freezes for three weeks to take note.

Eight out of 10 times, Kansas defeats Northern Iowa. The Jayhawks were faster, more talented and more athletic. KU's basketball budget topped Northern Iowa's by sixfold. But KU couldn't handle Northern Iowa's shooting touch or pace-setting defense, giving the nation another reason to watch basketball and KU fans a reason to turn the TV off for a couple weeks.

On paper, the matchup was an odd one. Northern Iowa entered the tournament clearly and egregiously under-seeded. How the NCAA Selection Committee decided on a No. 9 seed for a 28-4 team that won 15 of 18 in a good Missouri Valley Conference, no one had any idea. The Panthers stayed in or around's top 25 all season before settling at No. 32 before the KU game. One advantage the Jayhawks had was superior athleticism, something that became obvious when KU set up its full-court press and took over the game.

  • Despite the emphasis on Northern Iowa's three-point shooting, the Panthers actually converted at a lower-than-normal rate on Saturday. Northern Iowa made 34.6 percent of its three-point attempts, compared to a season average of 35.6 percent. KU struggled in a much bigger way from deep, making 26.1 percent after converting 40.4 percent of threes during the season.

• To listen to CBS tell it, you'd think Northern Iowa's posts pushed around KU center Cole Aldrich and forwards Marcus and Markieff Morris. That didn't happen. The Jayhawks made 58 percent of their two-point attempts while the Panthers converted just 44.8 percent. KU dominated the glass, holding Northern Iowa to 31.4 percent of available offensive rebounds and just 57.6 percent of possible defensive rebounds. That meant KU grabbed a remarkable 42.4 percent of its own misses, four percent better than the Jayhawks' stellar season mark. Aldrich in particular put up strong rebounding numbers. The junior capped his season by pulling down better than 21 percent of overall missed shots while he was in the game.

• There won't be any second-guessing of KU coach Bill Self here, but KU would have benefited from using its killer press a few minutes earlier. Problem was, the Jayhawks' most important offensive player, Sherron Collins, couldn't press for more than a few minutes without yielding some effectiveness on offense because of the state of his conditioning. Watching the way Collins struggled to keep up with the Panthers during inbound situations, KU may have been better served replacing him with a quicker defender in the press and subbing him in on offense. Northern Iowa guard Ali Farokhmanesh provided the Panthers an offensive boost — Nick Krug/LJW Photo

M.O.J. (Most Outstanding Jayhawk)

Marcus Morris once again provided a fantastic mixture of usage and efficiency. He used 25.3 percent of KU's possessions and created 1.16 points per possession. He shot the ball well enough (5-for-8) to compensate for committing three turnovers. At times during KU's frenetic comeback, he seemed the team's only viable offensive option. It should be exciting to watch Marcus Morris' ascent to the position of Big 12 Conference Player of the Year. At this point, it's a when, not an if. Marcus Morris ended up unhappy, but played a solid game on Saturday — Nick Krug/LJW Photo

Room For Improvement

The pace looked frantic in the second half, but it wasn't frantic enough. KU failed to take Northern Iowa out of its standard pace of play. The Panthers limited the contest to a 62-possession affair, which put the game in their hands considering they averaged 59 trips per game to KU's standard of 70. In a more normal 68-to-70 possession game, KU would have almost certainly made up the deficit and at least taken a lead at some point in the second half. Falling behind a team like Northern Iowa is a risky proposition because you don't have much chance to claw back.

Hard Luck Line

Sherron Collins' career shouldn't have ended like it did Saturday. The Jayhawks' floor leader went 4-for-15 with five turnovers while counterpart Ali Farokhmanesh went dropped 16 points and the game's dagger three-pointer. Collins tried to put KU on his shoulders, using more possessions than any other Jayhawk. But without his shooting touch, the Chicago native mustered just 0.76 points per possession, lower than any KU player aside from Brady Morningstar (0-for-1 in eight minutes).

The Bottom Line:

It happens. Underrated nine-seeds knock off slumbering giants. One guy (Farokhmanesh) has a lights-out afternoon while another (Collins) has an ill-timed off day. This may not be the sort of Madness KU fans wanted this March, but there's no denying this sort of game is what makes the month so special.

Thanks for spending some of your (or your company's) time reading, agreeing/disagreeing with and discussing Going Into Overtime this season. I very much appreciate it.


mhughes1 12 years, 2 months ago

Asher- Thanks for the re-caps all season long; you're the first write-up I read after a game, and more and more frequently, the last as well. Especially this morning... Ugh.

See you next year.

RockCaCO3 12 years, 2 months ago

Asher, enjoyed your analysis this year. Your bottom line sums it up; It happens.


Mike Kendall 12 years, 2 months ago

Asher--- thanks for your first-class analysis all year. I don't get paid millions of dollars to coach D-1 basketball, but just like you Asher, I thought Coach Self should have gone to the FC press earlier. It's always easy to second guess a coach--a high profile coach like Self. Stuff happens---better luck next year. Hawks will be in the mix for a NC next year. That's all I need to know.


RedRed 12 years, 2 months ago

Asher Fusco - -

You said ... "Problem was, the Jayhawks' most important offensive player, Sherron Collins, couldn't press for more than a few minutes without yielding some effectiveness on offense because of the state of his conditioning. Watching the way Collins struggled to keep up with the Panthers during inbound situations, KU may have been better served replacing him with a quicker defender in the press and subbing him in on offense."

I agree ... I thought was "Out-of-Shape" from a conditioning standpoint. How did he, himself let that happen? Appears to trying to live on his reputation to me. Self also let that happen!

ldjayhawk 12 years, 2 months ago

Interestingly, the team's two supposed-to-be-All-Americans, Collins and Cole, failed to perform in a game that mattered so much. Coach Self flirted with the idea of using another point guard in the game, but chose to relay on his captain in the dying moments. As for Cole, he didn't contribute for the last five minutes of the game, which summed up a kind of night we had...

Scatterhawk 12 years, 2 months ago

I'm glad you posted this.

If there's two things I've learned as a sports fan its that:

  1. The best team doesn't always win.
  2. You can do everything right and still fail.

Sometimes you just get beat.

Robert Lofthouse 12 years, 2 months ago

good lesson for the team to learn:

       being the best of the best is a journey

Scott Smetana 12 years, 2 months ago

Absolutely Fantastic Article.
You summed it up perfectly.... "It Happens" That's why it's important we smell the roses along the way.
I also really enjoy watching players improve during the season and from year-to-year.
Who is gonna surprise us next year?? We'll see.

Signing off for the season, Pikes Peak Smitty

manhattanhawkfan 12 years, 2 months ago

Good article. Thanks for the fun reads all season. Hope to read more next season!

kckmedic 12 years, 2 months ago

Idjayhawk, you said: "As for Cole, he didn't contribute for the last five minutes of the game"

I don't know if you remember, but Cole was shoved in the back late in the game and twisted his ankle as he fell out of bounds. He had to leave the game and when he came back he wasn't the same. I'm getting tired of hearing how Cole had a bad night. He had 13 points on 6 of 8 shooting wiht 10 rebounds, a steal and 2 blocks. The man was 75% from the field. The biggest problem was that the guards couldn't get him the ball.
The outcome of the game sucked but lets be objective when analyzing the game. We all want to figure out what happened and who screwed up. Maybe pressing earlier would have helped. Maybe if Sherron doesn't take 14 shots on a night where his shot isn't falling. Maybe if Tyrel guards Faroukmanesh on that last 3 instead of guarding the goal. Maybe if Mario Little didn't redshirt. (That last one is a little facetious.) Seriously, woulda shoulda coulda. It's a bad end to great year. But basically Northern Iowa played a great overall game and we couldn't overcome our slow start. Kudos to UNI.
Thank you Jayhawks for a great year. The great thing about KU fans is we care no matter what. Missouri and KSU fans care more about our loss yesterday than anything that happens to their teams. When they fall off again, as they will, they will go back to playing in half empty arenas while Allen Fieldhouse will be full every game every year. Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

86finalfour 12 years, 2 months ago

...."Sherron Collins, couldn't press for more than a few minutes without yielding some effectiveness on offense because of the state of his conditioning. "

Is this an opinion or fact? I have never read anything about him being out of shape. I've thought this myself but, again, is this common knowledge among the jayhawk community?

FairgroveJayhawk 12 years, 2 months ago

Excellent article. Direct and to the point, good numbers and informative without showing a major bias, laying blame or providing excuses. The best post game article I have read.

KPOP 12 years, 2 months ago

there is always plenty of blame to go around in games like this. I take part of the blame because I was not intense enough to start the game and felt like we could come back in the second half. I should have been yelling at the TV, layed off the chips and dip and put more of myself into the game. I got plenty interested with under 8 minutes to play but by then I had 4or 5 beers in me, some bar-b-que beef, chips, dip, crackers, cheese and various other snacks and my intensity level was lacking. Geez, sounds just like what happened to our basketball team.

Uhjh 12 years, 2 months ago

Sherron: 4 for 15 shooting; 5 turnovers and two rebounds enough said. There may be some blame to go around but these statistics are deplorable period. You can’t be hot every game and when your game is off let someone else have the shots. I hope the is a wakeup call for the coach that in a game of this caliber no matter how enamored you are with a player you just can’t wait to see if he will get hot. There was plenty of talent on the floor to cover.

Sparko 12 years, 2 months ago

Ever since the NCAA moved to Indianapolis, Kansas has always played "woefully" under-seeded teams. It makes the title runs very hard playing effectively 5 games against the Top 15. I thought Lehigh was egregiously seeded too. They have two NBA-bound players and were conference champions. They also have the Freshman of the year, scoring-wise. You have to beat them all, but a team like Northern Iowa is too good to play without some serious planning. If Kansas had won, it would get to face Michigan State again. So much for playing all season for a high seed--K-State played in the same venue against lesser teams. Sigh. Getting through the first week is tough when you face what should have been a 3 or 4 seed with seniors and no prep. There is something wrong with the NCAA tournament selections and seeding. No madness there--this played out as the committee intended.

Uhjh 12 years, 2 months ago

Sparko I completely agree with you. The NCAA wanted to buy the building in Overland Park but the owners would not sell (wanted rent forever). Somehow this stuck in crawl of NCAA and they have routinely tried to shaft KU which had nothing to do with the situation. OP put together a nice package to have them stay but as a jilted lover they just went through the motions pretending to have an objective review. They are so far from professional and objective it becomes childish.

Tuskin 12 years, 1 month ago

This article is perhaps the best season-end article I've ever read (except for 1988 and 2008!). Very nicely done, Asher.

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