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TCU Basketball Preview: Kansas (Round 3)

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TCU faces Kansas in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament.

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: Approx. 2:00pm CST | Location: Sprint Center - Kansas City, MO | TV: ESPN2 | Series: Kansas Leads 14-1 | Game Line: Kansas -8

After knocking off #9 seed Oklahoma 82-63 in the First Round of the Big 12 Tournament Wednesday, TCU will now face #1 seed Kansas in the Quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon. Big 12 Freshman of the Year Josh Jackson will not be suiting up for the Jayhawks today due to a suspension stemming from an off-the-court issue.

In yesterday’s game, the Frogs put together what may have been their most complete game against a Big 12 opponent since joining the conference. They shot 60% from the field and knocked down 44.4% of shots from beyond the arc. They outrebounded the Sooners 33-31 and also assisted on 20 of the team’s 30 made field goals. The Frogs also only turned the ball over 8 times.

Vladimir Brodziansky put on an absolute show yesterday by scoring 20 points on 10/13 shooting. Vlad also pulled down 7 rebounds and blocked 3 shots. Kenrich Williams was also spectacular, finishing with his 14th double-double of the season. He dropped in 19 points on 8/10 shooting and grabbed 11 boards to go along with 3 steals. Point guard Alex Robinson nearly had a double-double as well, finishing with 17 points and 9 assists.

TCU and Kansas first met this season in Fort Worth in the 1st game of Big 12 play. The Jayhawks were able to come away with an 86-80 win in that game. The Frogs actually played very well in that game despite the loss and were led by a breakout performance from Vlad, who finished with 28 points and 9 rebounds. Kenrich had one of his double-doubles in that game, scoring 11 points and pulling down 11 boards.

The Jayhawks only played 7 guys in that game, but 5 of them were able to score in double-digits. Frank Mason led the team on offense with 22 points and 7 assists, but it was big man Landen Lucas that won that game for them. Lucas scored 15 points and grabbed an incredible 17 rebounds, 7 of which came on the offensive glass. His ability to create second chances for Kansas’ offense was the main reason they won that game.

When the teams met in Lawrence, Kansas once again came away with the victory, beating the Frogs 87-68. TCU kept it close in the 1st half and only trailed by 1 at halftime, but the Jayhawks were able to get their offense rolling in the 2nd half and the Frogs couldn’t keep up. Robinson led the Frogs in that game with 15 points by attacking the rim.

Frank Mason was the Jayhawks’ leader once again in that game, finishing with 20 points, but Devonte’ Graham was the x-factor. Graham finished with 17 points, a majority of which came in the 2nd half and helped Kansas pull away. Carlton Bragg also provided a big lift for the Jayhawks off of the bench, finishing with 15 points and some big dunks. Bragg also pulled down 7 boards and blocked 3 shots.

Kansas is sitting pretty right now at 28-3 and are #1 in the AP Top 25. The Jayhawks have pretty much locked up a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, so they won’t be playing for as much as TCU today. With Jackson out, Bill Self likely won’t want to burn through the rest of his roster and take any chances on injuries. It’ll be interesting to see how deep into his bench he’ll go and how early. The Frogs definitely have a chance to make things very interesting today and could reach the Big 12 Tournament semifinals for the 1st time in school history.

Three Things to Watch:

1 - Foul Trouble

When TCU played the Jayhawks close in the matchup in Fort Worth, it was because they made Josh Jackson a non-factor and Kansas only used a limited rotation. With the suspension of Jackson, Kansas is essentially down to a 6-man rotation, which means foul trouble can cause a lot of issues for them. Also, if the game does start to get physical, Bill Self may be hesitant to leave his stars in because they probably are more focused on winning the NCAA Tournament. If the Frogs can get at least one of the main guards and either Bragg or Lucas in foul trouble, then things could get very interesting.

2 - Free Throw Shooting

If the Frogs do manage to get Kansas into foul trouble and get to the line as a result, they have to be able to take advantage of it. When TCU nearly knocked off the Jayhawks in Fort Worth, they shot the bell very well from the line, going 20/25. They’ll need to repeat that kind of performance to keep themselves in it today. Free throws become much more critical in the postseason, so let’s hope they make more than the 50% they made yesterday.

3 - Brandon Parrish to Set Record

When senior Brandon Parrish checks into the game today, which is a safe bet, he will be playing in his 130th career game for TCU, which would set a new school record. The fan favorite tied Kyan Anderson and Garlon Green for the record in yesterday’s game against Oklahoma. It’ll be quite the honor for a player who embodies what it means to be a TCU Horned Frog.

Prediction:

I truly believe today’s game is setting up very well for the Horned Frogs. After seeing how well TCU played yesterday, it appears that they might be starting to play their best basketball of the season. Without Jackson and much to play for, it’ll be interesting to see how much motivation Kansas comes out with. I believe the trio of Vlad, Kenrich, and Robinson will help carry TCU to an upset that will send shockwaves through the college basketball world.

Score Prediction: TCU 81, Kansas 79

Fan Poll:

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Here are some additional game notes, courtesy of GoFrogs.com (prior to Oklahoma game):

  • TCU has been to the NCAA Tournament seven times, but has never won a conference tournament.
  • Vladimir Brodziansky (Second Team and All-Defensive), Jaylen Fisher (Honorable Mention), Alex Robinson (All-Newcomer) and Kenrich Williams (Honorable Mention) all earned postseason honors from the Big 12 Conference.
  • Brodziansky was named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention by the AP.
  • TCU finished in eighth place in the Big 12 standings, the highest in its five seasons in the league.
  • Jamie Dixon has won the most games of any TCU head coach in his first year with the program.
  • TCU's seven-game slide is the second longest losing streak of Dixon's career. He lost eight straight in 2011-12 at Pittsburgh.
  • In its five seasons in the Big 12, TCU has three road conference wins, two of those wins coming this season.
  • Jamie Dixon has coached as many conference wins (6) as TCU had in the last three years combined.
  • TCU's NCAA RPI is 79 and strength of schedule is 30.
  • TCU's last postseason tournament bid came in 2012 with the CBI.
  • TCU last played in the NCAA Tournament in 1998 with its last win in the tournament coming in 1987 when Dixon was a player.
  • TCU last played in the NIT in 2005.
  • TCU is 16-5 when outrebounding its opponent.
  • TCU is 7-2 when shooting over 50 percent from the field.
  • TCU is 14-2 when leading at halftime (Baylor, WVU).
  • TCU is 10-4 when forcing more turnovers than it commits.
  • TCU's 73.6 points per game is the highest average since the 2002-03 season (80.4).
  • TCU is shooting 46.1 percent from the field, the most since the 1998-99 season (49.1).
  • TCU's 16.6 assists per game is the most since the 2000-01 season (18.9).
  • TCU's 35.7 rebounds per game is the most since the 2002-03 season (38.9).
  • TCU currently ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 and No. 23 in the NCAA in assists (16.6).
  • TCU currently ranks No. 3 in the Big 12 and 37th in the NCAA in blocked shots (4.7).
  • At 13-6, it's TCU's most wins at home since a 14-3 home record during the 2011-12 season.
  • Kenrich Williams ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 and No. 37 in the NCAA with 9.4 rebounds per game.
  • Williams ranks No. 23 in the NCAA and No. 2 in the Big 12 in offensive rebounds with a 3.31 average on the season.
  • Williams ranks first in the conference with 13 double-doubles this season.
  • Jaylen Fisher leads the Big 12 freshmen in assists per game at 4.3. He has made at least one 3-pointer in 17 consecutive games.
  • Brandon Parrish ranks third all-time in games played in school history. He is 1 away from the most in school history (129).
  • Alex Robinson has led TCU in assists 23 times this season and has had at least four assists in all but five games this season.
  • Robinson passed Jamie Dixon (86-87) for 10th for the most assists in a season at TCU with 169.
  • Vladimir Brodziansky ranks second in the Big 12 and 23rd nationally with 2.3 blocks per game.
  • Brodziansky's 72 total blocks ranks as the third most in school history for a single season.