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Kansas vs. The Field: Blind Resume Comparison

How the Jayhawks’ season to date compares to some of the Final Four contenders.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional Practice Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve had this article idea for several weeks, but waited until the end of the Big 12 regular season (at least from KU’s perspective) to dive into the numbers. The feeling was that Kansas’ resume on paper was not as bad as things felt, or people talked. The timing worked out well, given KU’s impressive knock off of then-undefeated Baylor on Saturday.

The win has Kansas fans’ spirits high, but let’s be honest, for the majority of 2021, that was not the case. This season has been deemed by some the worst team under Bill Self, and there was a time in January where getting a top-4 seed in the NCAA Tournament would have been laughed at.

And look, the eye test has been questionable at times. There’s no arguing that. This team has struggled to score and went through a stretch early in conference play where opponents could get to the rim and hit 3s at will. And they did. But the resume has shown that this team—while perhaps not living up to fans’ high standards—has been pretty solid.

Let’s break down the Jayhawks’ resume:

18-8 (17-8 against D1 competition), 6-8 in Quad 1, 3-0 in Quad 2, 3-0 in Quad 3, 5-0 in Quad 4

That puts Kansas at No. 10 in the NET and now on the three line according to Joe Lunardi as of Monday afternoon. So let’s see how that compares to some of the other teams whose names have been mentioned as Final Four contenders throughout the year. And let’s do it using a staple of March debate: the blind resume comparison. I’ve already told you KU’s resume, so we’ll look at KU compared to other blinded teams.

Note: All NET win breakdowns are as of Monday afternoon prior to the evening’s slate of games.

Comparison 1

KU: 6-8 in Q1, 3-0 in Q2, 3-0 in Q3, 5-0 in Q4

Team A: 5-6 in Q1, 6-1 in Q2, 2-0 in Q3, 5-0 in Q4

This is a pretty comparable resume. KU is 9-8 in the first two quadrants and this team is 11-7. Team A has a slightly better record in those two quadrants, but Kansas has more Q1 wins and Team A has a quad-two loss that Kansas does not.

Team A: Iowa

Iowa is currently the third two seed according to Lunardi and has been considered a Final Four front runner for most of the year with likely the national player of the year in Luka Garza.

Comparison 2

KU: 6-8 in Q1, 3-0 in Q2, 3-0 in Q3, 5-0 in Q4

Team B: 6-4 in Q1, 7-2 in Q2, 5-0 in Q3, 1-0 in Q4

Team B has fewer losses in that Q1 resume, but while everyone focuses on the great wins this time of year, the average-to-bad losses matter, too. That’s the thing with KU’s resume. There are no bad losses. And this team also has two Q2 losses.

Team B: Alabama

Bama is currently on the 2 line only behind Illinois and slated at No. 6 overall in Lunardi’s bracket, just ahead of Iowa.

Comparison 3

KU: 6-8 in Q1, 3-0 in Q2, 3-0 in Q3, 5-0 in Q4

Team C: 6-6 in Q1, 5-0 in Q2, 4-0 in Q3, 2-0 in Q4

Two losses in Q1 are really the only things that separate these two teams, along with two more decent wins against Q2 opponents. Looking through the numbers, this is one of the teams whose profile is closest to the Jayhawks’ along with Iowa.

Team C: West Virginia

Yep, the team that Lunardi has as the fourth 2 seed has a resume that looks a lot like Kansas. The only difference is that KU holds additional losses, but WVU will have three games this week, with two coming against Baylor and Oklahoma State. By next week, these resumes might look even more identical.

Rapid-fire comparison

Just so it doesn’t seem like I’m cherry-picking a couple of teams, here are a handful of other resumes.

KU: 6-8 in Q1, 3-0 in Q2, 3-0 in Q3, 5-0 in Q4

Team D: 8-5 in Q1, 4-1 in Q2, 4-0 in Q3, 2-0 in Q4

Team E: 2-1 in Q1, 5-1 in Q2, 8-1 in Q3, 4-0 in Q4

Team F: 7-5 in Q1, 4-2 in Q2, 5-0 in Q3, 2-0 in Q4

Team G: 2-3 in Q1, 5-1 in Q2, 7-0 in Q3, 1-0 in Q4

Team D: Illinois

Team E: Houston

Team F: Ohio State

Team G: Villanova

Some of these teams at the top have more Q1 wins than Kansas, but the lack of a non-Q1 loss stands out. In fact, as of Monday, only four teams in the top 20 of the NET have more Q1 wins than the Jayhawks (three others also have six wins), yet KU is one of only five teams in the top 20 not to have a loss outside of the first quadrant. Those teams? Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan, and West Virginia.

And remember, the quadrant wins and losses are always changing based on new games and performances. So, as teams rise and fall, what was a Q2 loss could be a Q3 loss and vice versa, but Kansas’ losses all appear to be pretty comfortable within the Q1 frame.

What’s the point?

The point is that despite what was a rocky path to reaching this moment of the season, there are only a handful of teams that can say their season thus far exceeds the Jayhawks’ resume. And in a year where the blue bloods have found themselves fighting just to make it into the field of 68, Kansas has been the blue blood to survive mostly unscathed.

The point is, if this season is in the discussion as the bottom of what Jayhawk fans have experienced in the past 17 years, it’s not a bad place to be.