Experience should carry Kansas to Elite Eight
We’re not going with a typical, run-of-the-mill top 25 rundown each day. Instead, we’ll cut to the chase and tell you who will be left standing at the end of the year in the Elite Eight.
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We’ll hit on one each of the next eight days — in no particular order. Then we’ll unveil my complete bracket just prior to the start of the season Nov. 9. I had the championship game right last year, but incorrectly picked Michigan State to beat North Carolina.
I have a good feeling about my bracket this time around.
The Jayhawks cut down the nets two years ago and are the preseason favorites and No. 1 team in the land entering this season.
Bill Self’s team won 27 games last year, was 14-2 in the Big 12 and advanced to the Sweet 16.
And they lost virtually nothing. Not only did Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich decide to return to Lawrence, but they didn’t even test the NBA waters.
There was plenty of offseason news surrounding the program, though much of it wasn’t of the positive variety.
1. Two studs: Collins and Aldrich are two of the country’s elite players and give Kansas a potent inside-out punch. Collins is arguably the top point guard in the nation and a similar argument can be made for Aldrich as the best center.
2. Depth: The Jayhawks literally go 13 deep once Jeff Withey and Brady Morningstar are eligible after the first semester. Bill Self’s team is one of the few that can sustain injuries and not miss a beat. Don’t be surprised if Self winds up redshirting a player or two because he has that kind of depth.
3. Experience: Collins and Aldrich have national championship rings and many of the other players were on last season’s team that overachieved and advanced to the Sweet 16.
1. Focus: Or lack thereof. These guys got into it with the football team and then a couple weeks later, Morningstar was suspended for the first semester following his arrest for driving while intoxicated. Self had better hope he’s got their attention.
2. Xavier Henry: He isn’t quite as good as advertised. The freshman wing is talented, but I’m not certain he’s much better than he was two years ago. He’s much heavier and is a volume shooter.
3. Tyshawn Taylor: His injury could linger. The thumb, which appears at least twice the size of a normal thumb, required surgery after Taylor’s swing at one of the football players landed on a car. How much will it hinder his shooting ability? We’ll see.
Xavier Henry: If he can mature quickly, accept his role as the third or maybe even fourth scorer and become consistent on both ends of the court, the Jayhawks will be tough to beat. Self really doesn’t have another potent wing scorer with size like Henry.
Don’t sleep on…
Thomas Robinson: The freshman forward goes hard all the time and will find a way on the court because of his ability to rebound, defend and finish. He’ll be a terrific four-year player in Lawrence and will make key contributions immediately.