SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 27: (L-R) Thomas Robinson #0, Marcus Morris #22, Markieff Morris #21 of the Kansas Jayhawks react during the southwest regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Alamodome on March 27, 2011 in San Antonio, Texas. Virginia Commonwealth defeated Kansas 71-61. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
After the loss to VCU there was some discussion among the Kansas fan base as to what the Jayhawks and Bill Self could do to get over this so called Mid Major curse. Tom Keegan with KUSports made a suggestion that actually seemed to be one of the more common ones and that included an increasingly difficult schedule in terms of scheduling those mid majors.
Playing a road game against a team that doesn't have a snazzy name splashed across the front of the jersey presents a challenge far more difficult than any computer rankings possibly could capture. It's a different one than a tough conference opponent.
It's not that Kansas doesn't schedule good teams. This year the Hawks took on Arizona in Vegas, UCLA in Lawrence, USC in Lawrence, Memphis in NYC and Michigan in Ann Arbor, but in terms of non-"name" teams or Mid Major tourney or near tourney teams the Jayhawks really only played Colorado State from the MWC in Kansas City.
If you go back to the '09-'10 season Kansas again does a fairly decent job of attempting to test themselves against the major programs with games against UCLA(although it was a down year), Memphis, Temple, Tennessee, Michigan and Cal. But again in the Mid Major department all games played were in Lawrence or Kansas City. There were some good ones in Cornell, Oakland, and Belmont but all were played on a home court or a VERY close "neutral" court.
Fact is winning in Lawrence against a team from those conferences in November is the expectation. Kansas had the longest winning streak in the country this year before losing to Texas and if you've followed Kansas for a time it's not as if we haven't been on that list of longest home winning streaks on almost an annual basis. Kansas wins at home, that's the way it works with a great program. So why not take the show on the road early in the year?
As Keegan explains the common argument is that it provides a team like Kansas with nothing to gain and everything to lose. But after the most recent loss in the tourney I tend to say let's take the risk. It doesn't affect our conference record, it can provide some growth early in the year and that might translate to success late in the year. Bill Self can continue to enjoy the success he's had on the conference level. We might drop a game here and there in November/December but does that come with the benefit of going further in March? I don't know the answer, but it's an interesting thought.