The Frogs are back in action tomorrow night after their heartbreaking loss in Morgantown over the weekend. TCU looks to put that result behind them and focus on one of the best teams in the country. I caught up with misterbrain from Rock Chalk Talk to chat about the matchup and see if TCU can pull another major upset on the two-year anniversary of the largest upset in college basketball history. You can check out my responses to his questions over at Rock Chalk Talk in a bit.
1. For the last decade, Kansas has been on a reign of terror over the Big 12 Conference, winning ten consecutive conference championships. With the Big 12 as deep as it has been over the last several seasons, how are Bill Self and the Jayhawks able to compete at a consistently high level year-in and year-out?
It's been a combination of things really. First, Kansas still recruits elite talent. With Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre this year, Andrew Wiggins last year, and Ben McLemore, Perry Ellis and Xavier Henry in prior years, Kansas has always had a stable of talented young stars to step in every year.
Obviously the stars struggle at times, especially as freshmen still trying to learn the system. But Bill Self has always been able to develop his players from year to year to hold the fort down while the younger guys develop. Jeff Withey was a great example of the secret weapon that the Jayhawks have in Andrea Hudy, who runs the strength and conditioning program for the team.
The last thing that has contributed to the streak is the fact that none of the other programs in the Big 12 have been able to get consistent footing in the league. Texas is the closest to a consistent competitor, but they've stumbled each time they had a chance to take the league outright. Only Kansas has been in a position to take the league every year, and having veterans on the team that have had that experience year in and year out has been a huge asset down the stretch.
2. Both TCU and Kansas fans can take pride in how strong the Big 12 is this season, albeit for slightly different reasons. From Kansas' perspective atop the Big 12, how important do you think it is for teams like TCU and Texas Tech to be able to compete in conference play?
It's always nice to be able to say that your team plays in the best conference top to bottom, but I really don't think it is that important to the winner of the league if the rest of the league is all even or if there are a couple bottom feeders. What really matters in the non-conference schedule, and basically everyone except Kansas State held up their end of the bargain there.
However, from an aesthetic point of view, it sure is a lot nicer to have all 10 teams be fun to watch and have a chance to compete. If the entire conference is good to watch, it makes the entire season fly by as we get to watch great game after great game. And having teams at the bottom that can jump up and snag some wins against the other competitors is great as long as you don't let it happen to you.
3. For the Jayhawks, this game falls right in-between two massive conference contests - last Saturday's battle in Austin and this Saturday's Sunflower State Showdown at Allen Fieldhouse against Kansas State. In a game that isn't as significant for KU, how does Bill Self motivate his players so as to not overlook an underrated TCU team that is one of the best in the country defensively?
Four letters: YMCA. All it will take is to remind this squad that TCU has been able to pull the upset in this series before. Even though most of the players on this team weren't Jayhawks when that happened, no one wants to be the one to allow something like that to happen again.
That being said, this wouldn't be the monumental upset that the other game was. TCU has been playing extremely well as of late, and the near win in West Virginia is likely going to be all that Self needs to keep these guys motivated.
4. The Jayhawks have had little difficulty with their opponents this season, aside from a trio of losses away from home to high-level competition. If the Horned Frogs were to pull another major upset tomorrow night, how could it be done? Where is that proverbial chink in Kansas' armor?
Honestly, I don't think it's going to be so much what TCU does as opposed to what KU doesn't do. If KU doesn't get someone going from three, then they are doomed. Without the size that Kansas is used to, they need to be able to space the floor, and if the outside shots aren't falling then they are going to be in serious trouble. That being said, good help defense and rotation can be used effectively, but it will require a lot of concentration on the part of the TCU defenders, since Kansas is much improved on their ball movement since the beginning of the year.
Despite the numbers trending in the right direction after Saturday, Kansas is still susceptible to the block far too often. I'm not sure how well Self has prepared for it, but this TCU team is surprisingly good at blocking the opponent's shots. I'd imagine this is probably the best shot that TCU has to pull off another upset.
5. I'm sorry to do this to you, but we are nearing the two-year anniversary of the largest RPI differential upset in college basketball history, when TCU knocked off the fifth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks 62-55 in 2012. The win was the Frogs' first ever Big 12 Conference victory and is looked upon as a signature moment for the program. Is there any way you see another huge upset taking place in Fort Worth tomorrow? How do you see the game playing out?
Well no for a few reasons. First, if there was an upset, it wouldn't really be that big, especially with how this conference season has gone so far. Second, Kansas is the superior team here, and they really should play like it. I've seen some head scratching losses after big wins before, but I just can't wrap my head around the possibility of KU losing Wednesday. Ultimately, I think Brannen Greene has another huge game, Perry Ellis and Cliff Alexander have another dominating performance, and Frank Mason has another 4 or 5 plays that just make you stand up and shout "B*$CH, HE'S FRANK MASON! (http://youtu.be/EXe-zJDZGIE) (NSFW). Kansas wins 68, TCU 59
Big thanks to misterbrain and the team at Rock Chalk Talk. Look for continued coverage of TCU vs. Kansas right here leading up to tomorrow night's game.