The recipe for success in March includes a variety of ingredients. From talent and luck, to suffocating defense and offensive efficiency, a strong combination of those ingredients goes a long way in helping any team looking to make a run at the Final Four.
The Kansas Jayhawks, at times have had most of those things. What they’ve lacked is the smothering defense the Jayhawks have been known for, and yet, Kansas was good enough to with the Big 12 for the 10th straight year.
As the calendar flipped to March and the regular season wound down, defensive deficiencies are appearing that make a run to the final four tough to imagine. Without Joel Embiid, this Kansas defense is far more ordinary than suffocating.
This is the worst defensive team Bill Self has had in his 11 years in Lawrence. In 2012-2013, the Jayhawks finished No. 1 in the country in field-goal percentage defense, holding opponents to 36.1 percent from the field.
This season, they enter the NCAA Tournament ranked just 69th. Last season KU was 54th in the nation in scoring defense. This year, 166th.
At times this year, KU’s defense has been good, like against Baylor and Texas in February. But for the most part, it’s been inconsistent. Joel Embiid helped to mask a lot of issues and since he went down, grabbing his back, in KU’s loss to Oklahoma State on March 1st, the Jayhawks have been especially bad.
In the first game without Embiid (not counting TCU or Texas Tech) they were chewed up and spit out allowing 92 points in a loss to the West Virginia Mountaineers.
In the quarterfinal round of the Big 12 Tournament, the Jayhawks were serviceable defensively, but a lot of teams look dependable defensively against a Travis Ford-coached team.