The first two rounds are in the books in our bracket-style effort to name the best Kansas basketball player under Bill Self. Voting for round two was, as expected, closer than the blowout-laden first round, and I expect things to tighten up even more as we're down to our Elite 8. Below, you can see the updated bracket and a breakdown of the 2nd round results, as well as previews of this round's matchups!
Round 2 Summary
(1) Mario Chalmers (97%) over (5) Julian Wright (3%)
(2) Cole Aldrich (68%) over (3) Marcus Morris (32%)
(1) Andrew Wiggins (53%) over (4) Wayne Simien (47%)
(3) Jeff Withey (82%) over (2) Joel Embiid (18%)
(1) Thomas Robinson (85%) over (5) Keith Langford (15%)
(2) Tyshawn Taylor (74%) over (3) Ben McLemore (26%)
(1) Sherron Collins (91%) over (4) Darrell Arthur (9%)
(3) Brandon Rush (76%) over (2) Markieff Morris (24%)
Round 3 Preview
(1) Mario Chalmers vs (2) Cole Aldrich
It seems unfair to have these two paired so early, but sometimes that's the way things go in a tournament. Cole Aldrich posted a ridiculous 123.9 oRtg his sophomore year to go with being a 10 defensive rebounder and top 100 offensive rebounder. His junior year his block rate soared to 5th in the country. In Chalmers' final year as a Jayhawk, he somehow posted an even better oRtg (124.5) with an insane 63.1% eFG. He was also the best steal man Bill Self has coached at Kansas, making him a similar dual threat player as a guard. He also made a pretty important shot once. Truly a tough call here.
(1) Andrew Wiggins vs (3) Jeff Withey
The "not aggressive enough" narrative have clearly done some damage to Wiggins' reputation among Kansas fans, as he barely squeaked by Wayne Simien in the closest vote we've seen so far (won by two votes). People tend to overlook just how amazing Wiggins was in his single year at Kansas. He scored 21.1 points per 40 (for comparison's sake, that's more than Sherron Collins in his senior year). He got to the line often, was a great offensive rebounder at the wing position, and was even a respectable shot blocker. He was also a lockdown defender who played in over 81% of the team's minutes that year. On the other side, Jeff Withey went from a scrawny foul-machine to the nation's top shot-blocker in his time at Kansas. He also added some post moves and became a scoring threat, while putting up respectable rebounding numbers. He may have been a step below Cole Aldrich at his best, but he changed the way opponents played against the Jayhawks.
(1) Thomas Robinson vs (2) Tyshawn Taylor
Two heroes from the memorable 2012 championship game run face each other in this matchup. Thomas Robinson put up the best defensive rebounding numbers of any player in the bracket, while averaging the second most points per 40. He was a force around the basket, and even became an effective jump shooter by the end of his career. Tyshawn Taylor went from one of the most criticized Jayhawks in recent memory to one of the most beloved. During the 2012 run, the entire offense ran through Taylor, who developed an incredible knack for getting to the rim, getting to the line, and setting up opportunities for others. He also developed into a fine perimeter defender and grabbed 52 steals in his senior year.
(1) Sherron Collins vs (3) Brandon Rush
Collins was a fan favorite during his time at Kansas, combining incredible explosiveness, top-flight finishing ability and a very solid three point shot. Despite quarterbacking the offense, Sherron was never a big turnover risk, put up a gaudy combination of points and assists. By the time he was done, he won more games in a KU uniform than any other player in history (a record which has since been broken). Brandon Rush was a key to the '08 NC team's success, though never put up huge offensive numbers, despite Bill Self publicly pleading with him to shoot more often. An excellent shooter, slasher, rebounder and defender, Rush found success in every aspect of the game.
So there are your final 8 players. As always, vote and discuss in the comments section. I'll count any votes all the way through Friday, and I'll present the Final 4 on Monday, with championship voting to come next Wednesday. Have at it!
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