NCAA Tournament 2016: A look at Kansas’ season


Kansas has been one of the most accomplished programs in recent history.

On Thursday evening, Kansas and Maryland will do battle in the NCAA Tournament.

The Jayhawks have been a model of consistency since Bill Self took over for Roy Williams at the start of the 2003-04 season. Self has led Kansas to 13 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.

The Jayhawks won at least one tournament game in all but two of Self’s seasons in Lawrence.

Kansas entered the 2015-16 season being ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press preseason Top 25 poll. Ironically, Maryland came in at No. 3 due to their talented roster and supreme expectations.

Kansas wasn’t tested too much in their nonconference schedule. The Jayhawks did lose to Michigan State 79-73 on Nov. 17 in just their second game of the season.

The Spartans held the Jayhawks to just 34.8 percent shooting from the field and 20 percent (3-of-15) from beyond the arc. Forward Perry Ellis and guard Frank Mason III combined to score 35 points, but didn’t get much help from elsewhere.

Guards Devonte’ Graham and Wayne Selden Jr. managed to make just four of their 21 shots.

Kansas did beat Oregon State, UCLA, and Vanderbilt in their nonconference slate.

The Jayhawks also won their first three Big 12 games, which included a triple overtime thriller against Oklahoma and a rout of Baylor. The Sooners are made it to the Sweet 16 and the Bears were upset by No. 12 seed Yale in the First Round.

Over their next five games, Kansas lost three times during that span. The Jayhawks dropped games to Iowa State, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia. Obviously, two of those three teams qualified for the NCAA Tournament, but it was still a concerning stretch for a powerhouse like Kansas.

Then Kansas showed why they’re one of the most prolific programs in the sport.

Kansas is currently on a 16-game winning streak dating back to Jan. 30. On Jan. 30, the Jayhawks defeated Kentucky 90-84 in overtime in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

Kansas got a 33-point performance from Selden, so the Jayhawks probably don’t win that game without him. No other Jayhawks scored more than 13 points.

On Feb. 9, Kansas got their revenge against West Virginia from their loss earlier in the season.

Kansas broke down West Virginia’s press in a 75-65 win in which they shot 56.1 percent from the field and 41.2 percent (7-of-17) from beyond the arc. Ellis had another one of his typical games as he scored 21 points on a very efficient 7-of-9 shooting performance.

Just four days later, Kansas knocked off Oklahoma once again in a 76-72 affair. While Buddy Hield had a strong game, it was the sharpshooting of Graham that was the story of the game.

Graham scored 27 points and hit six three-pointers on the afternoon.

Kansas beat the likes of Baylor, Iowa State, and Texas in the regular season before the Big 12 Tournament began. If their spectacular regular season wasn’t enough, Kansas won the Big 12 Tournament with victories over Baylor, Kansas State, and West Virginia.

In summary, Kansas defeated West Virginia three times, Iowa State twice, and Oklahoma twice on their way to the Big 12 regular season and Tournament titles.

Simply put, this is a very talented team that gets by with three talented guards and a very persistent big man. The Jayhawks can score with just about anybody in the nation and they’ve proven that this season.

In the NCAA Tournament, Kansas easily dispatched Austin Peay and Connecticut in their first two games to reach the Sweet 16. The Jayhawks really weren’t tested very much in either of those games, but that doesn’t mean that Maryland can’t give them trouble.

Maryland did beat UConn 76-66 back in December in the Jimmy V Classic.

Next: Photo gallery from Maryland's win over Hawaii

Kansas definitely is the most talented team that Maryland has faced to this point in the season. If their resume is any indication, the Terps are going to have to bring their “A” game if they want to advance to the Elite Eight.