It's officially March now, and as Selection Sunday draws near, I thought it would be an interesting post to go over what teams Kansas should hope to avoid in the NCAA Tournament. What teams scare you?
I divided up the teams into groups based on the current projections of Joe Lunardi's Bracketology (as of his last update on March 3rd). I then asked our trusty contributors to identify which team out of each group scares them the most.
I should note that as of right now, Kansas is the last 1 seed in Lunardi's projections.
GROUP A (1 seeds): Florida, Wichita State, Arizona
TJFsports: I think I'd least like to see Arizona. Florida is probably the best team out of the three of them, but I feel pretty good about KU's chances in a rematch with them for whatever reason. Arizona scares me a bit with their frontcourt, and their defense is pretty amazing.
KUGrad08: The only one I wouldn't want to hit is Florida. Too much balance, tough to score on, already beat us (although it was in Gainsville and we were awful). If we played well we'd beat Wichita State by 20. Of course, if we played them I know we'd play like crap just because its a game our fans would love to destroy them in, but its a matchup in our favor. I also believe KU is a better team than Arizona.
Penhawk: Arizona. To me, Arizona is built to destroy us. They're the top defensive team in the country, with size and rim protection down low. In a matchup with them, I see one of those frustrating "oh my god, why can't we score any points?" type of games, and those have not gone well for us (think @Texas, SDSU, @Okie State, Florida etc)
KU Chief: Arizona: I think that this team would be very keen on a rematch with Florida and would handle them. Zona is a squad that has some decent size that could gum things up for KU, and I can see Perry struggling a bit against Aaron Gordon's athleticism.a
notkapowski: I think I'd probably like to play Arizona the least. Offensively they're probably the worst of the three, but I think they're the best defensively and even without Brandon Ashley they have enough guys who can be physical with us, which hasn't been a good look for us so far this year.
misterbrain: Can I say all of the above? I was tempted to pick Arizona here, because they are playing so well and match up the best inside on us, but then I got to watching them in some of their recent games. Their starting lineup is probably the most imposing of the three, but they have the thinnest bench. I think that is something that we can exploit down low, and so I had to go with Florida here. Florida matches up really well with us, and if both teams are playing at their peak, I could see a bruising game that goes into 7 OTs and has 5 players on each side foul out. Hopefully we can see that in the title game (and we win, of course).
GROUP B (2 seeds): Syracuse, Villanova, Duke, Wisconsin
TJFsports: Duke. Obviously we know Kansas can beat Duke, but their offense is still pretty frightening. I think this squad would be motivated against any team that they lost to this season, including Villanova. Syracuse is still a great team, but they've lost 4 of their last 5 and look pretty vulnerable. Zones are stupid and I hate watching them, but I think Self could obliterate Syracuse's zone if given almost a week of practice to prepare for it. Also, beware of any little white guy for Syracuse that shoots threes. Always. Never forget.
KUGrad08: Nova and Wisconsin don't really scare me. They'd be close, but I feel like we'd pull those out. Syracuse is playing like crap lately although I could see that zone giving us fits. Duke is scary. They are good and they have the potential to get very hot from deep.
Penhawk: A couple weeks ago I'd have said Syracuse without hesitation, but it looks like anyone can beat them now. I'll go with Wisconsin. We saw what happened when Texas Tech slowed things down and took us out of rhythm in Lubbock. It wasn't pretty and almost resulted in a loss. Well, that's Wisconsin's entire identity. I feel like this could be a maddening game to watch.
KU Chief: Wisconsin: Wisconsin is always a wild-card in my book, they aren't quite as slow this year as some of the other top teams, but I just feel vaguely uneasy about them. All the other teams in this group will come up against a very motivated team whether it's based on name, as in Syracuse's case, or past experience.
notkapowski: I think it's probably Syracuse. Obviously they've struggled lately and the offense isn't great, but they play so slowly and I don't really want Kansas to get into that sort of a game if they can help it. Likewise, while I think Kansas has solved its zone issues for the most part, playing a Syracuse zone is a lot different than doing it against a team who plays zone for just poops and giggles.
misterbrain: Call me a contrarian, but I'm going to go with Villanova here. Syracuse and Duke are both sliding to really bad teams. Duke we've already beaten, and we are playing much better with Embiid's improvement. I get the feeling that we can pick apart the Syracuse zone, and they have all kinds of problem scoring down low, which has lead directly to their recent problems. I'm not really high on any of the Big Ten teams this year. I think they would give us a game, but not really sure they would win. Villanova has shown the ability to get hot from behind the arc, and while they got completely demolished by Creighton, it's not like Creighton is a slouch, and I'm not sure anyone could have handled them on those nights.
GROUP C (3 seeds): Creighton, Iowa State, Virginia, Michigan
TJFsports: It's Virginia, and this is a pretty easy call for me. Virginia is ACC champs for a reason, and they're probably the best team in it, if you ask me. In ACC play, Virginia has an offensive efficiency of 113.1 and a defensive efficiency of 89.7 (!!!). That's about 10 points per 100 possessions better than the next best ACC defense, and over 13 points per 100 possessions better than KU's defense in Big 12 play. Creighton spaces the floor really well, which makes it difficult to focus in on Doug McDermott, so that could be a difficult matchup for KU's defense, but they can't defend at all. Michigan is a really solid 3 seed, and Nik Stauskas is ridiculously improved from last year, but at least they still don't have Trey Burke anymore.
KUGrad08: Iowa State would have scared me a week or two ago but they are absolutely falling apart at the moment. Creighton doesn't scare me. As long as they aren't unconscious from three I think we'd win that comfortably. I like our chances against Virginia and Michigan as Wiggins and our post guys would be tough matchups for those teams.
Penhawk: While I think we would beat Creighton more often than not, they scare me because on any given night, they can go all NBA Jam on fire and simply not miss threes. It's like playing a team with Brady Heslip, Phil Forte, and Doug McDermott, and one of them is actually Doug McDermott. The frightening thing here is not how talented they are, it's that on the right night, they are practically unbeatable
KU Chief: Virginia's defense is really solid, and I can see this young team getting frustrated against them in a dogfight, and a frustrated KU has not been the best at churning out wins.
notkapowski: Definitely Virginia. I think they're a top 5 team and like Syracuse they really slow the game down, which is mildly terrifying. They're good defensively as well, which is maybe worrisome. I will say, though, that Wiggins could probably take Harris and/or Brogdon out of the game enough to where UVA couldn't score enough to win.
misterbrain: Has to be Virginia. They have flown under the radar all year, and they are solid defensively. They are the one team in the group that I could see being really disruptive to our offense, and their slow style allows them to play well against good defensive teams.
GROUP D (4-5 seeds): San Diego St., Oklahoma, Cincinnati, North Carolina, Michigan St., Louisville, UCLA, St. Louis
TJFsports: This is a pretty tough batch of 4-5 seeds, which actually doesn't bode very well for being a 1 seed. If I had to choose one, I'd go with Louisville. They're top 5 in Kenpom. They have a press that would unquestionably cause a lot of turnovers from this backcourt. They also still have Russ Smith, who is putting up per 40 numbers of 24.9 points, 6.3 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.8 steals. San Diego State is one that's scary because they beat KU at Allen Fieldhouse, but Kansas also just basically played like crap that day. Michigan State is interesting if they get healthy going into March. UNC is a very unique and good team, but they aren't good at shooting threes, which doesn't bode well for playing against Kansas.
KUGrad08: San Diego State would pose the same problems as last time. Michigan State would best to be avoided because they can turn the game into a street fight and pull out a low posession game. UCLA and SLU don't scare me at all. Cincy and UNC? Meh.
Penhawk: Louisville. For one thing, KenPom has had them as a top 10 team for most of the year, so it's possible they're underseeded as part of this group. But mainly, I don't want Kansas and their turnover problems facing Louisville's press.
KU Chief: SDSU: We were terrible when we lost to them, how much of that is them and how much was just KU giving away the game? Secondarily UNC: Why do we keep running into these guys?
notkapowski: Probably has to be North Carolina given that they can only beat good teams, right? If Michigan State is healthy though it's probably them. Louisville hasn't been good enough against good teams for them to worry me all that much, SDSU can't score, OU can't defend, Cincinnati really can't score (although with those teams I'm always wary of them going 10-12 from three or something like that).
misterbrain: I'm leaning towards North Carolina, but we don't seem to be able to lose to them in the tournament so I'm not quite as scared. Michigan State and SDSU are the two I am really concerned about, as they both have a defense good enough to disrupt us, and enough outside threat to potentially exploit an off night by our PG duo. I think SDSU has actually backslid a little from when they beat us however, so ultimately, I think I'm going to pick Michigan State.
GROUP E (6-7 seeds): Ohio St., New Mexico, Iowa, VCU, Kentucky, UCONN, Texas, UMass
TJFsports: Iowa. They have the 4th best offense, and they can score from all over. They've struggled a bit against top competition, but they're still really really good. Kentucky is somewhat of a mess right now, but are still really talented. Their perimeter defense is pretty suspect, and Wiggins would destroy James Young.
KUGrad08: Only team that worries me here is VCU since our guards are fresh off a game in which they turned it over at a frightening rate. All the other teams would give us trouble but likely lose by 10 or so.
Penhawk: I know Kentucky has fallen on hard times, but the talent is there and they're capable of playing great basketball. They're looking like they could be a potential second round opponent, and I'd hate to play a Kentucky team that suddenly realizes their potential before we even make it to the Sweet 16
KU Chief: Iowa: I can't get a read on B10 teams, so I worry more about them. I assume the NCAA selection committee is reading this to spite us, and I'd appreciate the fast pace of this matchup at least compared to the other options.
notkapowski: Kentucky is the most talented of these teams, has the size inside, and given that it's Kansas they'd probably get up for the game and mount a huge challenge. I think we'd win, but I wouldn't want to play them just for how much it would take out of them. UConn also worries me given how good their backcourt is. Shabazz Napier might put up 50 points, 15 assists and 12 rebounds or something like that.
misterbrain: I don't know that any of these are really frightening, but if I have to pick one, I'm likely to go with Texas. Familiarity is a factor here that works in their favor, and with Embiid having injury issues, I'm concerned an off night by him would allow them to exploit us inside like they did in Austin.
GROUP F (8-9 seeds): Memphis, Xavier, Arizona State, George Washington, SMU, Gonzaga, KState, Pitt
TJFsports: No one here really scares me much, but I'll go with Pitt. They usually play a brand of basketball that is not the best suited for KU. SMU would be fun because of Larry Brown. K-State is pretty solid for an 8-9, but I would love another rematch with them.
KUGrad08: Memphis is athletic but can't shoot (aka its Memphis) but SMU could be interesting with Larry. They've had some really good games this year.
Penhawk: There's no one too scary here, but I'll go with SMU. We definitely have the talent to beat then easily, but I can see Larry Brown cooking up a gameplan that causes us problems (let's face it, it can be done)
KU Chief: All these teams should be typical tournament filler, I guess George Washington since they're the least name-teamy of them.
notkapowski: Memphis probably has the best athletes of the bunch, but I can't get Pitt being good out of my head. Lamar Patterson has fallen off a bit, but he's still had a hell of a year. They pound the offensive glass, which, given that they're not all that tall, might be a benefit for Kansas.
misterbrain: Arizona State. None of these teams are that consistent, but I saw what they did in their near win against Arizona, and I just think that they will match up the best of the bunch.
GROUP G (10-12 seeds): Stanford, Baylor, BYU, Minnesota, Tennessee, Colorado, Harvard, Green Bay, Oklahoma State, Saint Josephs, Arkansas, Oregon, Southern Miss, California
TJFsports: Oklahoma State is by far the best of this bunch, but I wouldn't mind a rematch. Would be a tough draw for a second round matchup, though. Harvard is a pretty good squad this year, and Oregon is pretty good with a top 10 offense.
KUGrad08: Baylor could knock someone off and obviously OSU could be dangerous. I could see them crashing the Sweet 16 pretty easily if they hit a team that can't stay in front of Smart and Brown (and Brown and Forte heat up). Arkansas is really athletic but can't shoot. But those can be the teams that give KU fits since they can keep up athletically and somehow find themselves shooting 14-25 from three...
Penhawk: Harvard, with zero hesitation. They're one of the slower-paced teams in the country, which is bad for us on its own. Throw in that they're a top 25 3 point shooting team, and that they turn opponents over like crazy, and Harvard could be a nightmare in an early rounds
KU Chief: Green Bay is an intriguing team with a 7-1 dude, so that's cool! St. Josephs supposedly has some talent that could pose problems to a top team, but I just don't see them putting it together. Again, these teams shouldn't pose a threat unless they go off in a big way and luck into an off day from a top group.
notkapowski: Probably OSU given the emotions attached to those games. Otherwise I'd say Harvard. They're sneakily pretty damn good, even if they don't have a signature win, and because their jersey says Harvard on it I would be a bit worried that Kansas would overlook them a bit.
misterbrain: Harvard is the one that makes the most sense here, as they've been a consistent team throughout the year, but I'm not sure they could handle any team with size like ours. The one team here that I think is underrated, but not likely to be intimidated would be BYU. They weathered the storm of their murderous non-conference, and came through ok, and have quietly snuck up to the second seed in the WCC tournament. Again, I'm not particularly scared of any of these teams, but BYU would be the one most likely to surprise I think.
Let us know what you guys think in the comments. What teams would you least want KU to face? Is there a particular rematch you're interested in seeing? Which teams are we not giving enough credit to?