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First Thoughts: Texas Tech Red Raiders (the sequel - Big 12 Tournament Edition)

Editors Note: Open Thread for the nights games will be the same as this afternoon.  After you read KC's preview of our game tomorrow, scroll down and join the conversation.  Great month March is eh?  - Denver

What does this game/tournament mean for Kansas? It's something I've been back and forth on all week.  The Jayhawks clinched the Big 12 regular season title outright last Wednesday at home against Kansas State.  They finished 15-1 on Saturday with a convincing win in Columbia over Missouri.  29-2 overall record with 15-1 in one of the two toughest conferences in the nation and the number one ranked team for much of the year should be a lock for number one seed in the NCAA tournament regardless what they do in the conference tournament, right?  I don't think that's much to discuss.  However, what may be up for grabs would be regional location.  As we've outlined before, being a higher ranked number one seed than Kentucky would likely assure the Jayhawks travel no further than St. Louis en route to Indianapolis.

The first time. When the Red Raiders visited Lawrence back in mid-January, they chose a terrible time to do so.  See, that came at the very tail end of the late non-conference, early conference struggles the Jayhawks suffered through.  And, by 'at the very tail end,' I mean the game that ended said stretch of lackluster play and brought on the onslaught that was the rest of Kansas' conference schedule/beatdown/ownage of their conference.  Anyways, in the first matchup, if you remember, there was a four-or-so minute stretch midway through the first half where each team were struck upon the head and duped into thinking they were their respective school's track teams.  Once coach Self pulled the reigns back a bit on his guards, they played a much better game and cruised by more than 25.  It was in this game that Marcus Morris had his true coming out party with a 20 point, eight rebound performance.

Tech abused Colorado in the second half on Wednesday. The lads from Lubbock played in the first half against Colorado like they did at Lawrence in the previously discussed matchup.  They shot incredibly poor to start the game (eighteen percent through eight-plus minutes) and couldn't manage to hold onto the ball to do anything with it.  Then, as quickly as Kansas took off in the game in January, the Red Raiders suddenly began to hit shots, pass the ball to their own teammates and defend very well.  Remember the name John Roberson.  He should the ability to assert himself and take over the game for Texas Tech in key moments.

Backcourt Comparison

Kansas - Sherron Collins, Tyshawn Taylor, Xavier Henry, Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed and Elijah Johnson
Texas Tech - John Roberson, Nick Okorie, David Tairu, Brad Reese and Mike Davis

Kansas Texas Tech
PPG 48.5 44.6
RPG 13.7 11.4
SPG 6.2 4.3

Frontcourt Comparison

Kansas - Cole Aldrich (6'11"), Marcus Morris (6'8"), Markieff Morris (6'9"), Thomas Robinson (6'9") and Jeff Withey (7'0")
Texas Tech - Mike Singletary (6'6"), D`walyn Roberts (6'7"), Darko Cohadarevic (6'9"), Robert Lewandowski (6'10") and Theron Jenkins (6'6")

Kansas Texas Tech
PPG 34.5 33.0
RPG 25.2 21.3
BPG 5.5 3.2

Can we get some more of that? The play of Tyshawn Taylor and Xavier Henry of the last two weeks has been exactly what was expected from the two talented Kansas guards early on in the season.  It has been a very opportune time to do with the recent struggles of Sherron Collins and Brady Morningstar.  I have said for the last month or so that the productivity from Taylor will likely determine just how far this team goes in the NCAA tournament.  If he can continue to knock down open shots, mostly from three, and make good decisions on when to pass the ball, when to drive and when to shoot, and not hurt the team more than he helps it, they will be the toughest team to beat.

Sound stratgey. The advantage that Kansas possesses of inside size and skill should be the easy key to the game; as was the reason for including heights of frontcourt players in the above comparison.  More so, though, will be the use of said inside advantage.  If the Kansas guards are content to toss the ball low to Cole Aldrich and the Morris twins, the Jayhawks should put the game out of reach early and not have to work too hard.  Texas Tech is a good team and they beat the higher seeded Buffs for a reason, but they are not on the level of Kansas and they should not be in the game if Kansas plays even their 'B-minus game.'


Those are my rock-solid thoughts.  Should be something more official looking from Denver Wednesday morning, so be sure and look for that...