Big 12 Conference (32-2, 15-1)
Big Wins: 1/2 at Temple (84-52), 1/30 at Kansas State (81-79), 2/15 at Texas A&M (59-54)
Bad Losses: 1/10 at Tennessee (68-76), 2/27 at Oklahoma State (77-85)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2009, Sweet Sixteen loss to Michigan State
Coach: Bill Self (24-10 in 11 NCAA appearances)
Why They Can Surprise:
When Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich opted to return to Lawrence, just about everybody tabbed the Jayhawks as the team to be beat heading into the 2009-2010 campaign…and rightfully so. It is hard to find a better inside/outside duo than Collins and Aldrich.
Collins is not just the team’s best scorer, but he is the leader on the floor. Collins is a consistent outside shooter and will create plenty of opportunities for his teammates using his speed and athleticism. Aldrich is often the beneficiary of Collins’ playmaking ability. The 6-11 junior is having another great season and is a double-double machine. With Collins and Aldrich leading the way, the Kansas offense is among the best in the nation, but Coach Bill Self has plenty of other offensive weapons as well.
Why They Can Disappoint:
There are not many negative things to be said about this group at Kansas. The biggest issue that occasionally shows up is their free-throw shooting. When the Jayhawks snuck past Colorado in overtime the team connected on just 18 of their 38 attempts from the charity stripe. Markieff Morris is the only really bad free-throw shooter on the team, but he is not on the floor that often anyway. His brother, Marcus, is a regular starter and shoots 67.1 percent from the line and Aldrich’s numbers are only a little better. While overall the players who will be taking a majority of the free-throws are not that bad, they definitely have some bad games from the line and that could come back to bite them sooner or later in the NCAA Tournament.
Who To Watch:
A couple other youngsters are making a big impact on the wings. Xavier Henry is having a superb freshman campaign and is second on the team in scoring and adds 4.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists. Henry will also use his 6-6 frame to defend some of the best players in the nation and usually does a great job for a freshman. Tyshawn Taylor is not as prolific of a scorer, but he is a solid defender and another great ballhandler. With him and Collins on the court at the same time, it is no wonder the Jayhawks can run up and down the floor without committing too many turnovers. Brady Morningstar gives the backcourt some quality depth and yet another player who can take care of the ball. After missing the first nine games of the season, Morningstar is finally playing his best basketball of the season late in the year.
Sherron Collins, Senior, Guard, 15.6 ppg, 4.4 apg
Tyshawn Taylor, Sophomore, Guard, 7.4 ppg, 3.4 apg
Xavier Henry, Freshman, Guard, 13.6 ppg, 1.5 apg, 4.2 rpg
Marcus Morris, Sophomore, Forward, 12.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg
Cole Aldrich, Junior, Center, 11.2 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 3.5 bpg
Brady Morningstar, Junior, Guard, 4.3 ppg, 3.0 apg
Markieff Morris, Sophomore, Center, 6.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg
Tyrel Reed, Junior, Guard, 4.9 ppg, 1.1 apg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 82.2 (4th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.6 (55, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 48.9 (8, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 37.6 (2, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.3 (63, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 40.4 (6, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.7 (146, 7)
Rebound Margin: 6.8 (11, 2)
Assists Per Game: 17.1 (6, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.8 (92, 5)
Follow Joel Welser's Postseason Capsules & College Basketball Previews on Twitter @Joel_Welser and on his Facebook page. Joel will be back in June for his annual Top 144 Teams in 144 Days preview on CollegeHoops.net