Final Third of Big 12 Race to Lucky 13 Jayhawk Titles

Final Third of Big 12 Race to Lucky 13 Jayhawk Titles

basketball

Each of the Big 12 title contenders have now play 12 of their 18 conference games. This race is historic as Kansas has a chance to win their 13th Big 12 title in a row which would tie UCLA’s record from the 60s-70s. College basketball has changed drastically since the Bruin dynasty and conferences have added more members. That makes the Jayhawks run all the more unbelievable.

A simple way to win the lucky 13th title is to win the remaining six conference games. While that is possible, it would mean winning at least a couple of very tough games. We looked at the race after six games and now it is time to do it again to predict the winner.

We’ll go through each of the three contenders starting with third place West Virginia. I’ll predict the outcome of each of the remaining games to give us the final conference standings.

West Virginia (8-4)

at Kansas – LOSS
Texas Tech – WIN
Texas – WIN
at TCU – WIN
at Baylor – LOSS
Iowa State – WIN

Based on those predictions, West Virginia would finish 12-6.

Baylor (9-3)

at Texas Tech – WIN
Kansas – WIN
Oklahoma – WIN
at Iowa State – LOSS
West Virginia – WIN
at Texas – WIN

Based on these predictions, Baylor would finish 14-4.

Kansas (10-2)

West Virginia – WIN
at Baylor – LOSS
TCU – WIN
at Texas – WIN
Oklahoma – WIN
at Oklahoma State – WIN

Based on these predictions, Kansas would also finish 15-3 and win their 13th consecutive title.

In the last three weeks of games, there were some upsets that I hadn’t predicted in the last round. I didn’t expect Baylor to lose at home to Kansas State and it was a real shock that the Jayhawks lost a game in Allen Fieldhouse to Iowa State. Kansas made up a game in the standings by beating Kansas State in Manhattan.

The next two games could decide the race. Baylor plays next at Texas Tech. Lubbock spelled a loss for West Virginia and Kansas needed a last second free throw to escape with a one point victory. Meanwhile West Virginia plays at Kansas. If the Mountaineers pull the upset, they are back in the race. A loss will most likely eliminate them.

Then Kansas plays at Baylor. If form holds and the Jayhawks beat West Virginia, the conference race could be ended with a road win in Waco. Alternatively Baylor could pull ahead in the race if the Jayhawks lose to both the Mountaineers and the Bears.

Given the current standings and upcoming games, I give the Jayhawks an 85% chance of at least getting a share of the title and a 70% chance of winning it outright. That could change drastically in the next week. We’ll look at the state of the race next week to see if it is all but decided or still up for grabs.

by Feb 13, 2017
Will the Writers Push the Jayhawks to the Top of the Polls?

Will the Writers Push the Jayhawks to the Top of the Polls?

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It was an odd situation last week when the polls were released. Kansas was at the top of the Coaches poll, but ranked second in the AP poll. What made it strange was that the Jayhawks received more first place votes, but had fewer overall points than Villanova. Both teams were victorious in their two games, but it is possible the Jayhawks can still leapfrog the Wildcats in the AP poll.

Above you can see the current top five in the AP poll along with game results since the poll was released and the point totals. One thing is pretty sure and that is UCLA will drop as they lost to Arizona yesterday. I would guess their three first place votes will be up for grabs.

Let’s dig a little deeper into why the Jayhawks trailed Villanova by 18 points. The point system is pretty straightforward. A team gets 25 points for first, 24 points for second, etc. So if there was a single writer who voted a team really low, that would drag down their point total. Last week, Graham Couch voted Kansas #13 on his ballot!

I don’t expect Couch to change his stance drastically, but there were losses by several of the teams he had ranked ahead of the Jayhawks. From that one writer alone, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Jayhawks gain five or more points. No other voter had Kansas outside of the Top Five. Even those who voted them at 4 or 5 will likely move them up a spot or two based on the results of the week. That would represent a few more votes. To pass Villanova, they would need at least 18 more votes.

Will it happen? I’m not sure. But I think the overall vote total between the top two spots will be less than five votes. One thing is pretty certain to me and that is wins at West Virginia and Kentucky would definitely put the Jayhawks in the top spot regardless of the outcome of any other games.

by Jan 22, 2017
Predicting the Jayhawks Chance at Lucky 13 Big 12 Titles

Predicting the Jayhawks Chance at Lucky 13 Big 12 Titles

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All teams in the Big 12 have played 6 of their 18 conference basketball games and three teams have separated themselves in the standings. Note that there are four more teams with 3-3 records that would have a chance to win the title if they were to win out. While possible, that is highly unlikely. Let’s look at the remaining schedules for each of the three contenders and take a guess at the Jayhawks chance of winning their 13th consecutive Big 12 title.

I’ve listed each of the schedules in reverse order, so we’ll start with West Virginia who are currently in third place. Just looking at their remaining schedule, I’ll predict a win or a less to come up with a predicted final conference record.

West Virginia (4-2)

at Kansas State – LOSS
Kansas – WIN
at Iowa State – LOSS
Oklahoma State – WIN
at Oklahoma – WIN
Kansas State – WIN
at Kansas – LOSS
Texas Tech – WIN
Texas – WIN
at TCU – WIN
at Baylor – LOSS
Iowa State – WIN

Based on those predictions, West Virginia would finish 12-6.

Baylor (5-1)

at TCU – WIN
Texas Tech – WIN
at Kansas – LOSS
Kansas State – WIN
at Oklahoma State – WIN
TCU – WIN
at Texas Tech – WIN
Kansas – WIN
Oklahoma – WIN
at Iowa State – LOSS
West Virginia – WIN
at Texas – WIN

Based on these predictions, Baylor would finish 15-3.

Kansas (6-0)

Texas – WIN
at West Virginia – LOSS
Baylor – WIN
Iowa State – WIN
at Kansas State – LOSS
at Texas Tech – WIN
West Virginia – WIN
at Baylor – LOSS
TCU – WIN
at Texas – WIN
Oklahoma – WIN
at Oklahoma State – WIN

Based on these predictions, Kansas would also finish 15-3 and tie Baylor for the title.

As I went through my predictions, I didn’t throw in any real upsets. Will the Jayhawks truly lose at both West Virginia and Baylor? Will they truly have another perfect season in Allen Fieldhouse? Baylor has been known to regress in previous seasons, will that happen again? If any of that changes, so could the race.

Right now I’d guess Kansas has at least an 80% chance of at least sharing the title to give them 13 straight. The next game for Baylor is at TCU and the Horned Frogs are much improved this season. Should the Bears lose that one, the race could be over sooner rather than later.

I’ll revisit the race when all of the teams have played 12 of the 18 games and we’ll re-evaluate where they all stand.

by Jan 19, 2017

Will the Jayhawks Get Caught in the Spider’s Web?

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Most observers will look at the #1 seeded Jayhawks and the #12 seeded Richmond Spiders and assume that this will be an easy win for the Jayhawks. There are also those who feel the Jayhawks may overlook the Spiders and be ripe for an upset. Either of those scenarios is certainly possible.

On paper, the Jayhawks have more talent. When it comes to the tournament, the team with the most talent doesn’t always win. The real key is getting that talent to focus on the task at hand and play well as a team. Of course, the underdog can also feel empowered and play well above their talent level would indicate.

Jayhawk fans know all too well about the unexpected loss to Northern Iowa in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. UNI was a veteran team that played a great game. The Jayhawks also seemed to take the game for granted which led to a flat performance. As most of the key performers played in the UNI game, they should realize that no team can be taken for granted at this point of the season.

There is another factor that may give the Jayhawks inspiration and it came before any of them put on a Kansas uniform. Richmond has played one previous game against Kansas and it was in 2004 at Allen Fieldhouse. They were a huge underdog and walked out of the Phog with a win. The Spiders played an amazing game that night and the Jayhawk players most likely overlooked them.

Bill Self has been at Kansas for eight seasons and has only lost seven home games. Most of the players on the current team experienced their only home loss this season when the Texas Longhorns came to Lawrence. The Jayhawks were exhausted that day after Thomas Robinson’s mom had died the evening before. When they met Texas again in the Big XII Tournament, the team was fired up for revenge.

With the loss to UNI in 2010 and the knowledge of Richmond winning at Allen Fieldhouse, the Jayhawks should have some revenge and redemption on their minds when they take the court Friday evening. While I expect Richmond to be a tough out, I think the Jayhawks will have enough fire to stomp out the Spiders and advance to the Elite Eight.

by Mar 23, 2011

Basketball Season Starts Tonight

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The latest edition of the KU basketball team will take the court this evening in an exhibition game with Fort Hays State. I’ll explore more about the team in the near future. Let’s start out by looking at the roster and trying to determine who will play, who will redshirt and who will get mop up minutes.

In total there are seventeen players on the roster and coach Self claims that he will have an 8-9 man rotation. We know that two of the walk-on players will have very limited minutes. Let’s put Jordan Juenemann and Chase Buford near the end of the bench. While they are valued members of the team, they just aren’t going to play very much. That leaves fifteen players.

For the first semester, we also know that Brady Morningstar is suspended and Jeff Withey is not yet eligible to play after transferring. Both players have exhausted their redshirt year so they will play this season. As Morningstar was a starter most of last season, we can expect that he will be part of the rotation this season. Withey brings size and mobility to the front court, as well as five more fouls, so he should also be added to the rotation on his return. That leaves thirteen players.

Mario Little and Travis Releford will sit out tonight’s exhibition game so that they have the possibility of redshirting if they won’t be playing meaningful minutes. Freshman players are allowed to play in the exhibition games without forfeiting their ability to redshirt. It would make sense for both Little and Releford to sit out this season. Mario hasn’t been healthy since he arrived at KU and he would have the opportunity to get fully healed by sitting for the season. Travis Releford has a lot of raw offensive talent, but hasn’t shown the ability to be a stopper on defense. Both of these players could get limited minutes this season, though they could play a lot in future seasons. I say they should sit for the season and that leaves us with eleven players.

Another player that could get lost in the shuffle this season is Elijah Johnson. While I’d love to see him play, I don’t think he will get many minutes this season. Take the redshirt and learn from the upperclassmen. Now we are down to ten players and I think they will all play significant minutes this season. Of course there will actually be twelve once Morningstar and Withey are eligible.

Now that we’ve determined who won’t play, let’s talk about who will play. We’ll start in the front court. There is no doubt that Cole Aldrich will start at center and will play a huge role on this team. He was spectacular last season and should only improve in his junior season, especially since it will probably be his last season in Lawrence. Joining him at the post and power forward positions will be sophomore Markieff Morris, sophomore Marcus Morris and freshman Thomas Robinson. The Morris twins were very unpolished in their freshman season and they should be much improved thanks to their great workouts over the summer. Coach Self has had wonderful things to say about Robinson and his “motor”. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him playing at least 20 minutes a game and tearing up the glass.

At the small forward, Marcus Morris could see some time. Yet it is expected that Xavier Henry will be the starter at this position by the end of the season. While many expect him to only play one season, it is possible he could stick around for more than one if he isn’t yet ready for the NBA. Tyrel Reed should also see some time and could even be the starter early in the season since he has experience. Connor Teahan has also seen some time at the small forward and we can only hope he has regained the shooting touch he displayed as a freshman.

There is no doubt that Sherron Collins and Tyshawn Taylor will be the starters in the backcourt as they were last season. Taylor played on the national team this summer and led the team in scoring. Collins is a senior and a pre-season All America. CJ Henry is a big unknown as he hasn’t played organized basketball in several years. He will not be playing in the first exhibition game due to a minor knee injury. His health will probably determine the number of minutes he will get this season. If healthy, he will be a valuable player on this team. It is also quite possible that Tyrel Reed and Connor Teahen will see some time in the backcourt.

This team is extremely deep and should be very fun to watch. They have experience and they have very talented young talent. If everyone plays to their expectations, the Jayhawks could be cutting down the nets in April. Let’s see what happens tonight and go from there!

by Nov 04, 2009

The Perception of Coaches

basketball

In the whirlwind of coaching changes this past spring, I found some of the comments about coaches to be quite interesting. As John Calipari was the biggest name to switch schools, I’ll use him as an example.

Calipari was the coach of the Memphis Tigers through the end of the season. I’m guessing that if a poll of Kentucky fans were taken in mid-March, the majority would have felt that Calipari bends the rules to get the best recruits. I don’t know him or his recruits so I honestly couldn’t say what he does or doesn’t do. This is simply about the perception of the fans. If a similar poll had been taken of Memphis fans, he would probably have been exonerated by the majority.

Now fast forward a month. Calipari leaves Memphis for a huge payday at Kentucky. Many of the big-name recruits also decided to leave Memphis. Soon after he took the job at Kentucky, there were allegations of wrongdoing at Memphis. When reading the comments that followed the numerous stories, the Kentucky fans were his biggest supporters. He would never do anything wrong and nothing bad would ever happen at Kentucky. Of course the Memphis fans were venting about how he destroyed their program with his wrongdoing.

Now I’m a Kansas fan so I definitely find some amusement watching this all play out from a distance. Yet I understand the feelings all too well. I was a huge Roy Williams fan. That is until he took the job at North Carolina. While it helped to beat William’s Tarheels in the 2008 Final Four, I doubt I will ever cheer for his teams in the near future.

As for Calipari, there have been some frustrating moments when he has gotten a top recruit that I would have loved to see on the court for the Jayhawks. Yet his teams have played the Jayhawks twice and have lost both times. The first game was when KU beat #1 ranked UMass in the Wooden Classic and the most recent was in the Championship game of the 2008 Final Four over his favored Memphis Tigers. So as long as we keep beating him on the court, I won’t dislike him too much. That can certainly change so stay tuned for the upcoming season to see what happens.

by Jul 21, 2009

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