Last NCAA Appearance: 2008, National Champions
Coach: Bill Self (22-9 in 10 NCAA appearances)
Why They Can Surprise:
Coach Bill Self lost just about everybody from his 2008 National Championship team. That left the expectations quite low for the Jayhawks this year; however, the team pulled together and had a great season. The youth and inexperience will cause some problems on occasion, but it is also that youth that has turned this group of players into an unselfish team. The high scoring Jayhawks have done a great job sharing the ball and a lot of that credit falls to team leader Sherron Collins.
Collins led the team in scoring, assists and steals during the regular season and also cemented himself as the team’s unquestionable leader on and off the floor. The other scoring threat on the team is center Cole Aldrich. The 6-11 sophomore had a few moments of greatness during the Jayhawks magical run to a NCAA title, but he has been very productive night in and night out during the 2008-2009 campaign. He is a double-double machine and has even developed into a solid shot blocker. Twins Marcus and Markieff Morris certainly deserve some credit for Kansas’ success on the glass, but most of it is because of Aldrich.
Why They Can Disappoint:
It is usually not a bad thing to take about six three-pointers per game, especially since the Jayhawks shoot so well from the floor. Generally, they do not need to catch up by hoisting up a plethora of long balls. However, sometimes it needs to be done and, at the least, it makes things a little easier for Aldrich in the paint. Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed and Sherron Collins are certainly capable shooters, but they can all be quite inconsistent. The other problem is a direct result of the youth and inexperience. Coach Self’s squad commits over 14 turnovers per game.
Who To Watch:
Collins and Aldrich form a solid inside-outside duo, but the team desperately needs a consistent third scoring threat. On some nights it will be Reed, Morningstar or Tyrel Taylor while other nights it will be one of the Morris twins who score a dozen points or more. It can be difficult for the opposition to prepare for the team when they have no idea who will step up and compliment Collins and Aldrich in the scoring column, but it is also difficult for Coach Self and company. With so many underclassmen playing a big role on the team, consistency is a problem. If nobody but Collins and Aldrich show up for a game, the Jayhawks will be going home a lot earlier, and more disappointed, than last year.
Sherron Collins, Junior, Guard
Tyshawn Taylor, Freshman, Guard
Brady Morningstar, Sophomore, Guard
Marcus Morris, Freshman, Forward
Cole Aldrich, Sophomore, Center
Mario Little, Junior, Guard
Markieff Morris, Freshman, Center
Tyrel Reed, Sophomore, Guard
Travis Releford, Freshman, Guard
+ Following final Bracket announcement, more team info will be added, including final RPI, final team statistical rankings, Joel's prediction, and more!