Fresh off the program's first ever Big 12 winning streak, the TCU Horned Frogs head to Lawrence, Kansas to face the 8th-ranked Jayhawks. TCU frustrated Kansas in the first matchup, but the Jayhawks escaped with a 64-61 victory in Fort Worth in late January. To preview this afternoon's game, I caught back up with misterbrain from Rock Chalk Talk. Be sure to check out my responses to his questions over on Rock Chalk Talk.
1. I came across this stat that I think is amazing: Bill Self has 34 Big 12 losses in his entire career, which is 10 less than TCU has since joining the Big 12 two seasons ago. This might be a silly question, but how much of an asset is Self to the Kansas program? What about Bill Self makes him so successful at the helm in Lawrence?
I don't know that it is a silly question, but I will say that Bill Self is as much an asset to the Kansas program as the Kansas program is to Bill Self. The Kansas program has always been extremely loyal to it's head coach, only having had 8 total head coaches in the entire 118-year history of the program.
Having a status as one of the premier programs in the country, KU has the ability to pretty much pick whomever they want as their head coach. If Bill Self were to leave after the season, I wouldn't be too worried about whether we would find an amazing head coach.
That being said, Bill Self is the perfect kind of coach for this school. He has already come out and said this is a destination school, one where he would gladly stay until he retires. Having that level of stability has been amazing for recruiting and his ability to assemble a top-notch has helped his teams to develop the talent he has coming in. Basically, he knows how to run an elite program the right way, and that has gone so far to help the Jayhawks avoid the customary dip that most teams see every few years.
2. So... Allen Fieldhouse is a pretty tough place for opponents to play. Kansas is 308-15 at home since 1994, including 153-9 all-time in Big 12 play. What gives Kansas such a dominant home court advantage? Describe this Phog that we must pay heed to.
It's hard to describe the Phog to anyone who has never experienced it. The Phog is about the history of the place. You can feel the presence of all the greats who have come before and packed the facility, including the building's namesake.
But the Phog isn't actually as terrifying the first time around. On you first trip there, you'll likely be in awe of the history of the building, and as the game tips off, the intensity and energy of the crowd is impressive. As the game wears on, the acoustics of the place helps visitors to feel like they are surrounded at all times.
Even after this, the part that will haunt you for years to come is the final minute or so as the win becomes assured. Hearing the chorus-like Rock Chalk Chant is eerie and terrifying. The first time I heard it, I swore it sounded like the ghosts of the greats were there amplifying the noise, and I go goosebumps knowing that they were on my side.
If you haven't had a chance to experience it yet, I highly recommend it.
3. For TCU, this is probably the best possible time to have to play at Allen Fieldhouse. The Frogs are riding their first ever Big 12 winning streak, confidence is at an all-time high, and the offense looks like it has finally figured itself out. With that being said, it is nearly impossible to walk out of Allen Fieldhouse with a win. What would the Frogs need to do to pull off the unthinkable?
Kansas would need to continue their streaky tendencies, and TCU needs some 3-pt luck. TCU kept the game close on the road, but Kansas really is a different team in Allen Fieldhouse. If Brannen Greene, Wayne Selden, Frank Mason or Kelly Oubre get hot from 3 and TCU doesn't have an answer, this is going to be a long night.
4. The Frogs were a half-court shot that rimmed out away from forcing overtime with the Jayhawks in Fort Worth. TCU seemed to frustrate Kansas throughout much of the second half. What do you think the 'Hawks learned about TCU in the first matchup? (BONUS: How has Frank Mason's rap single performed on the charts since the first meeting between TCU and Kansas?)
No clue about how the rap single has performed, but Mason is in the perfect position to make that song be one of the trivia questions that you see in the CBS tournament broadcasts for years to come.
As for the lessons learned from that game, I'm not really sure. It was hardly the first time that Kansas let a large lead slip away, and they've done it routinely since then, so it doesn't seem like a lesson was actually learned. I think that game really helped to nail home the point that this league is crazy and unpredictable and is going to come down to the wire.
5. Finally, I hope this isn't an exercise in futility, but how do you see the game playing out on Saturday? Can TCU shock the world, or will Kansas continue their dominance at home?
I'm just not seeing anything other than a solid Kansas win. Perry Ellis has been solid, Mason pretty much does whatever he wants, and anyone on the perimeter is liable to light it up at any point during the game. TCU will make it close at times, but I'll go Kansas 79, TCU 68.
Big thanks to misterbrain and the team at Rock Chalk Talk. Look for continued coverage of TCU vs. Kansas right here leading up to this afternoon's game.