It’s March Madness, the greatest time of the year. Looking for some help with your bracket? Don’t know which teams to believe in, in this crazy college hoops season? We’re breaking down every first-round game in the field of 68, plus looking ahead at which teams will make the run to the Final Four.
1. Kansas (28-4, 16-2/Big 12) – Once again, Kansas enters the NCAA’s with sky-high expectations. Will they finally live up to them this time?
There’s plenty of talent–and experience on this roster to suggest that they will. Point guard Frank Mason III is the Big 12 Player of the Year, and along with Josh Hart of Villanova, the favorite to win National Player of the Year honors.
Mason averages 20.8 points, 5.1 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game. He’s shown a penchant for coming through in the clutch, knocking down a game-winner to beat Duke in the Garden early in the season and coming up big in the schedule’s biggest games.
Freshman forward Josh Jackson (16.4 ppg) is a lottery pick, and–at least in college–a better version of Andrew Wiggins. He’s got all of the talent in the world–he can shoot the 3, get to the rim, rebound and defend multiple positions. He’s also had a checkered college career, having been suspended for the Big 12 tournament opener against TCU after reportedly backing into a car on the KU campus and leaving the scene without leaving his contact information. He was also disciplined earlier in the year for vandalizing a women’s basketball player’s car after an altercation in a nightclub.
Off-court distractions aside (and there were plenty of them), this team is loaded. Backcourt mates Devonte’ Graham and Lagerald Vick are capable scorers as well. Big man Landen Lucas is a solid contributor, and Svi Mykhailiuk is a knock-down three point shooter.
Still, the Jayhawks have a long history of entering the NCAA Tournament with high expectations and flaming out early.
Will this group break through?
We think they will. Kansas has more talent than anyone in the Midwest Region, and remembers what March heartbreak felt like after losing to Villanova in a classic in the Elite Eight last year.
This time, they’ll get to the Final Four, and we think they’ve got what it takes to win it.