After two opening round games in the NCAA Tournament as the one-seed in the Midwest, KU basketball has reached new levels. The offense and defense of this Kansas team has improved with every tournament game behind stellar performances.
On the brink of Selection Sunday, the Kansas Jayhawks had many questions heading into the NCAA Tournament. Will the frontcourt hold up? Will Kansas improve their free throw shooting? Will perimeter defense prove to be the Jayhawks kryptonite?
Well, after a second round win against Michigan State, it seems like those questions have been answered. With those negative questions answered, positive questions arise. Can anyone stop Josh Jackson? Will Frank Mason ever have a bad game? Will the Jayhawks ever go cold on the perimeter?
Yes, it seems like Kansas has brought their best game to the tournament.
Kansas looks like the team to beat in the Midwest region and is the team of destiny for a National Championship.
Following a 48 point stomping over UC Davis and a 20 point performance against Michigan State, Kansas seems like the hottest team in the Midwest region (other than the seventh-seeded Michigan Wolverines).
How did the Jayhawks get here? During the regular season, there were times where KU struggled with perimeter defense. Other times, it seemed like the frontcourt was the weakest in the nation, and free throws would bounce off the rim.
Now those woes have met solutions with every postseason game. What were those woes that plagued the Jayhawks during the regular season? Well, one was the weakness of the frontcourt.
The Resurgence of Kansas’ Frontcourt Strength
Dwight Coleby has stepped up to the plate when needed, especially during the second round game against Michigan State. Landen Lucas also seems filled with new life to will the Jayhawks to a deep postseason run.
In the first round game, Lucas recorded 11 rebounds and 13 points. Landen Lucas filled a much needed role by getting offensive rebounds off the glass when shots were not falling and he continues to do so.
In the second round game, Dwight Coleby showed why he should not be forgotten against Michigan State. Even though his stat line will not impress, his four rebounds were during very crucial moments in the game when he crashed the offensive glass.
Free Throw Shooting Has Improved
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During the regular season, Kansas had major problems with free throw shooting. Well, against UC Davis Kansas went 17-of-20 from the free throw line. Against Michigan State, the Jayhawks went 14-of-15 from the free throw line.
Perimeter Defense Has Improved, Too
Remember when Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk cost the Jayhawks the game against TCU? Well, that version of Svi disappeared against Michigan State.
It seems Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk has realized that he needs to be conservative with three point defense. Against UC Davis, Svi had one mishap during the end of the first half. With barely any time remaining in the first half, Svi gave the Aggies a three-point try at the free throw line.
Other than that mistake, Svi has impressed with his improvement in three-point defense.
Directly affected by the improvement of perimeter defense, KU basketball has held opponents to stagnant numbers. UC Davis only shot 4-of-20 from the three-point line. Michigan State had only 8-of-23 from the perimeter.
With Purdue up next, the Jayhawks are going to have to win another war on the perimeter. Right now, Kansas looks like the team to beat in the Midwest region and is the team of destiny for a National Championship.