The Kansas men’s basketball team snagged another win in the NCAA tournament Saturday to advance to the Sweet 16. Kansas defeated Connecticut 73-61. The Jayhawks key to success? The team has been shooting incredibly well from the 3-point line as of late. In Kansas’ current 16-game win streak, the Jayhawks are shooting 41.5 percent from beyond the arc. Successful shooting has earned Kansas a spot in the Sweet 16, where it will face 5-seeded Maryland.
Sweet 16 – Thursday March 24 @ 8:40 p.m., CBS
5 Maryland: Let’s start with Maryland’s biggest weakness: the Terrapins are inconsistent. In the team’s first round 79-74 win (vs South Dakota State) it at times seemed that the Terrapins would win easily, and other times when one might question how Maryland made it into the tournament. What should’ve been an easy win was somewhat of a nail-biter. Sure, Maryland shot well, but the Terrapins made some pretty terrible mistakes, which gave the Jack Rabbits a chance to snatch the game. When a team’s go-to guys foul a 3-point shooter with a minute left, one has to question Maryland’s probability of a deep tournament run. In Maryland’s game against Hawaii, the story line was no different. The Terrapins went to half with a one-point lead over the Rainbow Warriors, but scored 45 points in the second half to win 73-60. While Hawaii was able to snag small leads, Maryland recovered. Maryland shot 45.8 percent from the field, but 90 percent from the free throw line. When it mattered, Maryland converted. If the Terrapins want a chance at beating the Jayhawks, they’ll need to commit less turnovers and score from beyond the arc.
Elite 8 – Saturday March 26 @ TBD
2 Villanova: I’ll throw this out there: I want to see a Kansas-Villanova match up in the Elite 8. Villanova dominated Iowa, 87-68, Sunday afternoon. Just like Kansas, Villanova has a reputation in the tournament. The Wildcats often don’t live up to their hype, and their fans expect a championship season each year. Villanova is a constant in the NCAA tournament, and often a top-seed. With all of this being said, the pressure is on Villanova to advance. With the blowout win Sunday, Villanova can put their past failures behind them and focus on what lies ahead. The Wildcats played one their best games against Iowa — the type of play that could lead them to a National Championship.
3 Miami: I didn’t think Miami had it in them. Maybe I was dumb or naive? I thought that the Hurricanes were overrated. I was wrong. Miami’s defense crucial to its win over Wichita State on Saturday. The Hurricanes were able to build a 27-6 lead thanks to the defense. The Shockers were held t0 1-10 early on and 13 turnovers. With senior leadership from Sheldon McClellan and Angel Rodriguez, Miami was able to regain its confidence (and the lead) to pull of the win. The Hurricanes proved to me that they’re a strong team, and they can keep their cool in the clutch. Whether they can rally a win over a program like Villanova is another story… But I’m interested to see how the game plays out.
How does Kansas advance? As said above, Kansas has had success shooting 3-pointers lately. But the saying goes, “Live by the three, die by the three.” If Kansas has to rely on making long-range shots, this could be to the Jayhawks disadvantage. It makes sense, when Kansas shoots well, it wins games. When it doesn’t — do you recall that sad stretch post-Michigan State loss? — Kansas suffers. So, Selden, Graham, and Perry, this is directed toward you: rest your shooting arm. Do whatever it takes to continue to make buckets. Thanks.
For an updated tournament schedule, check here.
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