For just the second time in program history, the Frogs will travel to face the #1 ranked team in all the land tomorrow as TCU visits Allen Fieldhouse to take on the Kansas Jayhawks. We caught up with misterbrain of Rock Chalk Talk to discuss the match-up, Kansas' shot at the Final Four, as well as the similarities between KU Football and TCU Basketball. Be sure to check out my half of our discussion right here!
1. The Jayhawks enter tomorrow's contest 14-2 on the year, the top ranked team in the country in both the AP and Coaches Poll. However, Kansas is coming off a tough road loss to West Virginia. How would you assess the team's performance up until this point? Do you see the Jayhawks as a favorite to make it to Houston for the Final Four?
There are so many things that this team does well, but so many times where they should be doing so much better than they are. This team has a tendency to start slow, with the defense not really getting too intense until they are down or the second half has started.
Perry Ellis has been everything we could have asked for and more, and Frank Mason and Devonte' Graham have continued to provide the potent dual-PG threat we saw last year. Wayne Selden has continued his hot summer right into the season, and has finally become the feature guy that we thought he could be. It turns out that all those people saying he was forced out of position by Josh Selby and Andrew Wiggins were actually on to something.
As for whether this team is a favorite for the Final Four, it of course always depends on matchups. But this team is so talented that I can't pick them as underdogs to anyone in a neutral situation.
2. Kansas features one of the most talented starting lineups in the nation with Perry Ellis leading the team in both scoring and rebounding. The Jayhawks also benefit from a pretty deep bench. What is it about this team that makes them so difficult to beat?
Both of those are really big parts of their success, but the perimeter defense is probably the single-most important thing when it comes to explaining how this team has performed. Frank Mason has been a lock-down defender, and Devonte' Graham and Wayne Selden haven't been too far behind. The inside defense is a little on the weaker side, and once you get into the bench, the defense drops off a bit, even on the perimeter. But this team is very deep, especially offensively, so even when the defense lets someone back into the game, the Jayhawks can quickly take advantage again to push the lead out.
The other main factor is their veteran leadership. There really aren't any freshmen getting a large portion of minutes. Carlton Bragg is playing a decent amount as part of the frontcourt rotation, but neither he nor Cheick Diallo get featured when they are on the court, and you don't see them on the floor together very often at all. The veteran presence helps to calm this team when things start to go south.
3. Last year's TCU-Kansas series was actually pretty close. The Jayhawks won all three meetings, but only by a combined 17 points. Additionally, the Frogs were one of just three visiting teams to score at least 70 points in Allen Fieldhouse. What does TCU need to do tomorrow to keep things close?
They need to have success inside. Early foul trouble on Landen Lucas and Hunter Mickelson will force the freshmen into a greater role. So far, they haven't been that successful when forced to play a large number of minutes.
Also, pray that Wayne Selden has an off night shooting. Mason and Brannen Greene can pick up the slack from long range, but if Selden is on, KU will score in bunches very quickly.
4. Finally, what's your prediction for tomorrow afternoon's affair? Do you see anything other than Kansas taking advantage of the pretty sizable talent gap between these two teams?
I think the fact that Kansas is back at home should give them a big boost, but it isn't like anyone in the Big 12 can take a game for granted, even at home. Kansas will definitely push that talent gap for everything they can, and ultimately will put the game away, but TCU will either make a run to close the first half or to start the second half and make the game interesting for quite a while.
Bonus! It seems like every time these two teams face each other on the hardwood, somebody somewhere compares TCU Basketball to Kansas Football. From your perspective, do you think that's a fair comparison? What do you think happens first: TCU beats Kansas in basketball or Kansas beats TCU in football?
Considering TCU has already beaten KU in basketball, I don't think that the comparison is fair. Also, the fact that TCU and KU play each other twice a year in basketball and only once in football makes it a bit more likely that TCU basketball will win first. Also, basketball is easier to get a big recruit that will turn around the entire fortune of your team in a year or two, whereas the KU football team still needs a complete overhaul.
Big thanks to misterbrain and his team at Rock Chalk Talk. Be sure to check out their site for a different perspective on tomorrow's contest. And as always, stay right here for continued coverage leading up to tipoff.