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Entries in Kansas (9)


Tournament Takeaways: What The First Weekend Taught Us

Ali Farokhmanesh

One Great Season

One of the best opening weekends in recent NCAA Tournament history drew to a close shortly before 8 p.m. ET Sunday, and if you're anything like me, you've already begun counting down every tenth of a second for Thursday's Sweet 16 round to get here.

What did the first two rounds show us? Besides the fact that I can't fill out a bracket with even the slightest bit of success, plenty:

+ No one is invincible. Kansas, not just a No. 1 seed, but the tournament's top overall seed and heavy favorite to win its second national championship in three years, learned that the hard way. The Jayhawks had a star or a budding star at every spot on the floor, but they might not have taken seriously enough the one thing Northern Iowa seemed to have more of: heart.

+ The Big Ten is back. Isn't that what we said in the first week of January, after the college football bowl season? It is, and the same is true on the hardwood. With No. 1 Kansas and No. 3 Georgetown out of the way, Ohio State is the logical pick to rule the Midwest, though it might need to knock off league foe Michigan State -- gimpy guards and all -- in the Elite Eight. And not enough can be said about Purdue's gutsy overtime defeat of Texas A&M, making the Big Ten the only conference to send three teams into the next round. Gritty Chris Kramer doesn't want his career to end just yet. The Purdue senior is straight ballin'.

+ Cornell is legitimate. So is Xavier. Those are two fine basketball teams. That Cornell-Kentucky matchup will be one of the most interesting Sweet 16 games in recent memory. And the Muskies are no longer a precious little mid-major. The Muskies can beat anybody. I loved that rookie coach and hometown fave Chris Mack jabbed a Minneapolis writer after XU took it to the Golden Gophers Friday.

+ Despite the Big Ten props, I do agree with most analysts -- Len Elmore and Seth Davis, in particular -- who say the best-conference debate is a waste of time. Conferences aren't playing conferences. Individual teams are playing other teams in high-pressure, single-elimination games where personnel matchups are critical. That said, what up with the Big East?

+ Looking ahead, if Kentucky and West Virginia win their third-round games in the East, they'd meet in what would no doubt be the best regional final of the tournament. If those teams do make the Elite Eight, that could very well be a de facto national championship game.

+ On the TV front, CBS once again did an outstanding job showing 48 games over 80 hours, and switching to late-game situations. One complaint I did hear came from a colleague in the Bay Area who was disappointed to have to watch the last minute of Sunday's Duke-Cal yawner instead of being switched to the thrilling Xavier-Pittsburgh and Purdue-Texas A&M finishes that unfolded simultaneously at other locations. But overall, I thought CBS got it right again and I hope The Eye continues to broadcast America's greatest sporting event for as long as I'm alive.

+ The Miller Lite commercials are still awful, the Capital One viking ads have never once been funny, the new Dos Equis spots are just as strong as last year's successes, the girl in the Palm commercial is beautiful, Rhys Darby has already jumped the shark with those bad HP ads and Southwest Airlines appears poised to annoy us with their shirt-lifting baggage handlers for two more weeks. More on that from OGS contributor Steve Susi soon.


NCAA Ouster Leaves KU Fans Speechless ... Except This One

Special To One Great Season

I take comfort in knowing all of your brackets are f**ked.

The inhabitants of my household -- dog included -- are all staring at the television, shaking their heads. Yeah. Northern Iowa just happened. (Though the dog is diabetic, so maybe it's just time for his insulin shot, because he is a dog and dogs don't understand basketball.)

I wish I could say I haven't felt like this before, but it brings me back to a certain St. Patrick's Day a few years back. The team was Bradley. Before that, Bucknell. Bill Self has coached Kansas to a title, but also three of the worst losses in program history (Northern Iowa included). I'm not releasing the hounds or anything, but I worry about his coaching abilities against mid-majors.

What kills me about this loss is that KU shot 6-of-22 from three-point range. Cole Aldrich tweaked his ankle and was out the majority of the second half, and when he was in, he was getting handled by that giant Jordan Eglseder. It took away one of KU's most powerful weapons and forced the ball to the perimeter -- not Bill Self's game plan, I'm sure. Also, Sherron Collins is selfish when he doesn't deliver. It's been a thorn in KU's side all along.

In the end, UNI found and exploited the Jayhawks' weak spots, and the Panthers deserve to advance. Kansas didn't play like a national champion -- or even a Sweet 16 team -- in either round.

Now the question is ... do Xavier Henry and Cole Aldrich declare early for the NBA draft? I say maybe not to Xavier. Cole should've gone last year, though his nice-guy attitude may have him reconsidering this time around. KU will activate redshirts Mario Little and Travis Releford. I think they'll be motivated after being stuck on the bench for Saturday's disaster.

And then there's this:


At this time I will conveniently leave the country for four days on business. I would say "well, at least we have baseball season to look forward to," but I live in Kansas City and we all know how well that's gone the last 20 years. At least the World Cup will kill some time and our MLS team could be a playoff squad.

So for now, I'll leave you with a mashup of failures from our most-hated rival -- Missouri -- because it makes me feel better to insult others.

See you in 2011.

Mathews is a KU grad and works for the Lawrence Journal-World. Visit her Web site, and then follow her on Twitter.


Ali Farokhmanesh Leads Northern Iowa Upset Of Kansas

One Great Season

To heck with Kevin Pittsnogle. The Kansas Jayhawks got Farokhmaneshed.

That's right, the NCAA Tournament's top overall seed and prohibitive favorite to win a second national championship in three seasons was eliminated in Saturday's second round by No. 9 seed Northern Iowa, 69-67.

Just two days after Ali Farokhmanesh drilled a late three to give the unheralded Panthers a first-round win over UNLV, the sharpshooter made another one with 35 seconds left to give his team a four-point lead that UNI would not relinquish.

The Panthers, who became the first Missouri Valley Conference team to advance to the Sweet 16 since Larry Bird's Indiana State squad did it in 1979, controlled the first half and weren't shy in the opening minutes of the second half, either.

UNI took its game right at the Jayhawks, occasionally settling for outside shots but frequenly working the ball inside, right at KU interior stud Cole Aldrich. After three first-half treys, Farokhmanesh did go cold from beyond the stripe in the second half, but his teammates made enough big plays on offense to keep the pressure on the Jayhawks.

And when KU staged a rally inside the eight-minute mark, as the crowd inside Oklahoma City's Ford Center knew it would, the Panthers certainly bent but did not break.

UNI couldn't handle the Kansas full-court pressure. Several turnovers led to points for Kansas, but the upstarts squeezed out just enough big plays as they needed to avoid the complete meltdown.

What was once a 12-point edge for UNI after the break was sliced to one point with less than a minute left. But there was Farokhmanesh, ready to break his cold spell with a wide-open three. Feet set, he swished a long-range bomb to give his squad a 66-62 advantage, and it was nearly a piece of cake from there.

Kansas is the first No. 1 seed to exit in the second round since Kentucky and Stanford both suffered the same fate in 2004, but neither of those squads was the heavy national favorite that Kansas was to win this tournament.


Why Kansas Will Win The NCAA Championship

Bill Self

Special To One Great Season

While I'm smarter than the average girl bear when it comes to college hoops, I'm completely irrational when it comes to the Kansas Jayhawks. Just ask JPW.
Last year I told him (with a straight face) that he was a total idiot for not coming to one Kansas football game during his One Great Season college tour. KU went on to lose seven games in a row and our coach "resigned" for being too fat and grouchy to recruit effectively. Whatever.

So, every year I fill out two brackets, one with Kansas as the national champion and the other a little more realistic. Speaking as a somewhat educated yet ridiculous fan, both of my brackets this year have the Jayhawks victorious on April 5.


+ RECIPE: 7 Ingredients For A National Championship
+ GUEST COLUMN: Why Kentucky Will Win The National Championship
+ MYTH MADNESS: 3 Tournament Trends To Ignore This Year
+ FREE ADVICE: Here's How To Win Your NCAA Office Pool
+ QUOTEBOOK: Selection Chairman Dan Guerrero Explains Himself
+ NCAA TOURNAMENT: First-Round Pairings Announced
+ MARCH MADNESS: Tourney No Longer Leads To April Sadness
+ COUNTDOWN: The Top 10 Title Games Since 1979
+ LIST: The Top 10 Analysts In College Basketball
+ LIST: The Top 10 Play-By-Play Men In College Basketball

Why will Kansas win? The level of talent is just unfair. Similar to the 2008 title team, there is an answer for every question on the court. Take it anywhere near the rim, and you'll see the Minnesota Not-So-Nice of Cole Aldrich. He's changed the game defensively in the Big 12 since his KU fans got a glimpse of his capabilities during the 2008 national semifinal against North Carolina. (P.S. - As a KU fan, was that a great night, or the greatest night? I go with the latter.)

Here are two words: Sherron Collins. Here are two more words: Tyshawn Taylor. The backcourt is in good hands.

Every national title team has to have a white guy who can make threes. KU has two! Tyrel Reed (white guy, not-so-white name) and Brady Morningstar are solid perimeter shooters. Did you see Reed's two game-changing threes in Saturday's Big 12 Championship game defeat of Kansas State?

The X-Factor, Xavier Henry, is a probable one-and-done who was cold during the first part of conference play. But if he finds his groove, God help you. He can contribute from nearly anywhere -– especially in the cute smiles department –- and has averaged 15 points per game since early February.

What else makes KU so dangerous? (Sing it with me) ... And twins. Marcus and Markieff Morris. Easily the two most improved Jayhawks from 2008-2009. It turns out an extra 20 pounds of muscle and working with Danny Manning for a few hours every day is a good thing. And if they don't get you with their basketball skillz, they'll confuse you with their matching tattoos. Tricky.

Bottom line? KU is so talented across the board that we don't need a John Wall. Our John Wall is Henry, who has embraced the unselfish, experienced style of play that defines the current era of Kansas basketball. It will get KU fans where we need to be. It has before.

I will say my gut reaction to the Midwest bracket is "what kind of f**kery is this?" Both teams who straight-up pwnd the Jayhawks this season (Tennessee and Okie State) are in the Midwest, as is Michigan State, which ousted KU from last year's Sweet 16. It’s like going to a party and 20 percent of the dudes there are your ex-boyfriends.

I won't complain about a competitive path. Bring it on. Like Coach Bill Self said Monday morning, whomever comes out of the Midwest has earned it. I'd rather my team earn a Final Four than have it gift-wrapped in $100 bills and served up in a bejeweled chalice by 40 virgins <cough>Duke</cough>.

Anyway, is it Thursday yet?

Mathews is a KU grad and works for the Lawrence Journal-World. Visit her Web site, and then follow her on Twitter.


No. 5: Kansas vs. Memphis, 2008

Mario Chalmers

Each Monday until the national championship is played in Indianapolis on April 5, One Great Season will count down the Top 10 National Championship games since 1979, when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson squared off in Salt Lake City. Today's No. 5 is the 2008 overtime thriller between Kansas and Memphis in San Antonio.

One Great Season

Mario Chalmers will forever be remembered as the hero for Kansas, but college basketball fans probably won't soon forget Memphis' terrible free-throw shooting that allowed Chalmers' late three to even matter.

KU trailed by nine points with barely more than two minutes left, but the Tigers missed four of five freebies down the stretch as the Jayhawks mounted their furious comeback.


+ No. 6: Michigan vs. Seton Hall, 1989
+ No. 7: Syracuse vs. Kansas, 2003
+ No. 8: Georgetown vs. North Carolina, 1982
+ No. 9: Duke vs. Connecticut, 1999
+ No. 10: Indiana State vs. Michigan State, 1979

Kansas guard Sherron Collins brought the ball up on Kansas' final possession in regulation, handed to Chalmers, who dribbled once to his left, then launched the game-tying shot that the following week would grace the cover of Sports Illustrated.

And once overtime began, one team enjoyed the momentum while the other went searching for a Zoloft prescription. Kansas took advantage of its second life and ran away with its first national championship in 20 years, 75-68.

No account of this game can be provided without a mention of Derrick Rose, Memphis' electrifying freshman point guard who almost single-handedly led the Tigers to the title. Rose blossomed in the second half, scoring on driving layups and long-range bombs. His off-balanced rainbow banked in as the shot clock expired, giving Memphis a late eight-point cushion. But the officials later overturned the three-point ruling and said Rose's foot was on the line.

Follow March Madness 140 characters at a time: @onegreatseason


Thursday Hoops Notebook: Big 12 Girls Gone Wild

Brittney Griner

One Great Season

Turns out female thuggery isn't reserved for college soccer. Check out this gem from Wednesday night, when Baylor's Brittney Griner, already a Youtube sensation for her dunking, clocks Texas Tech's Jordan Barncastle.

One thing I never get about cry-baby athletes is the rage-fueled quest to retaliate. Moments before the punch, Barncastle certainly fouled the hell out of Griner, but the refs made the call. Quit acting like a 2-year-old and go to the line and sink the free throws. Or, if you really have problems managing your hate, wait until you're at the other end of the court and return the favor with a hack across the mouth.

Remember the in-game conduct last fall of New Mexico soccer player Elizabeth Lambert?

SEEDING MADNESS: Ohio State has worked its way into the conversation about NCAA Tournament top seeds. The Buckeyes have won 10 of their last 11 games, and despite a complete absence of a bench, they're well coached and their starting five is among the best in the country. I'd like to know the last team to earn a top seed with seven losses.

And don't forget the Bucks have the best player in the country, do-everything Evan Turner, who's more than capable of carrying OSU to a championship a la Danny Manning in 1988.

IF IFS AND BUTS: Speaking of Ohio State's starting five, imagine this lineup if no Buckeye would have left school early in 2007 or 2008:

+ PG Mike Conley Sr
+ SG Daequan Cook Sr
+ SF Evan Turner Jr
+ PF Kosta Koufos Jr
+ C Greg Oden Sr
+ 6th man - David Lighty Jr
+ 7th man - Jon Diebler Jr

THAT FINAL TOP SEED: Duke is more likely to win the ACC Tournament than Kansas State is to win the Big 12 Tournament, so expect the Blue Devils to grab that top honor out West. But then the question becomes, "Who's more deserving of the first No. 2 seed? Ohio State or Kansas State?" That does make a difference because the team that doesn't get it will be squared up with Kansas, Syracuse or Kentucky. Good luck getting past that trio.

FINAL THOUGHT: I hope the brackets line up in a way that will give us Kansas, the best team in the country, and Syracuse, the most complete team in the country, in the championship game on April 5 in Indianapolis.


No. 7: Syracuse vs. Kansas, 2003

Hakim Warrick

Each Monday until the national championship is played in Indianapolis on April 5, One Great Season will count down the Top 10 National Championship games since 1979, when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson squared off in Salt Lake City. In observance of President's Day, OGS took last week off, but today's No. 7 is the 2003 title game between Syracuse and Kansas.

One Great Season


That was about my reaction when longtime Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim won that elusive first national championship.

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I'd become a fan of Big East basketball in the mid-1980s, shortly after the league's inception, and quickly began to favor the Orange. Boeheim came close in 1987 before losing a heartbreaker to Indiana, then lost again in the title game nine years later to a loaded Kentucky team. The third time in a national championship game proved to be the charm for Boeheim's bunch, which held off a late rally by Kansas at the Louisiana Superdome.

But it wasn't easy. Star freshman Carmelo Anthony carried the Orange throughout the season, but he was held scoreless in the final 13 minutes of the game. And the Orange let Kansas trim a 12-point deficit to just three in the final minutes, requiring a heroic defensive play to preserve the win.


+ No. 8: Georgetown vs. North Carolina, 1982
+ No. 9: Duke vs. Connecticut, 1999
+ No. 10: Indiana State vs. Michigan State, 1979

Syracuse led, 81-78, when Hakim Warrick missed two free throws with eight seconds left. At the other end a moment later, Kansas got a great look for a three-point attempt when guard Kirk Hinrich found Michael Lee alone in the corner. Lee launched his shot, but Warrick came out of nowhere to redeem himself for the missed freebies. He swatted Lee's attempt out of bounds with less than a second left. KU got another chance, but Hinrich couldn't convert and the Syracuse celebration was on.

That game also might be remembered for Bonnie Bernstein's insensitive postgame interview with then-Kansas coach Roy Williams, which you can read about here.


Basketball Notebook: College, Pro Tidbits

Is Georgetown The 11th Best Team?

One Great Season

Flipping the channels around last night, I noticed a few things about the great game of basketball:

+ If Georgetown is the 11th-best team in the country, I don't think college basketball is very good this year. The more I think about rankings, the more worthless I think they are. Not because I think the ranking of a particular team is way out of line, but because there always seems to be a disconnect between the top tier of teams and everyone else. Sometimes that top tier can be six or eight teams, but this year, I think the cut-off separates just Texas, Kentucky and Kansas from everybody else. One of these three teams will win the national championship.

+ I like what Bruce Pearl continues to do at Tennessee, but for some reason I just haven't accepted the Vols as a serious threat in the national landscape. Sure they're an SEC power, and that league is better this year than last, but I just don't think they're there yet. UT is no better than a Sweet 16 team come March.

Gonzaga Beats St. Mary's

+ Gonzaga finally appears to have developed a nasty streak. I watched some of the Zags' game against a good Saint Mary's team, and as expected, Matt Bouldin had a nice night with 22 points. But although freshmen are a hot topic this year, one youngster not getting much hype is Elias Harris, who had 31 points and 13 rebounds. But overall, Gonzaga killed St. Mary's on the boards and played with a physical edge not typically seen from Mark Few's bunch or many west-coast teams in general.

+ On to the NBA, where the Jazz and Cavaliers played the best fourth quarter I've seen in a long time. Utah's 21-2 run gave the home team a 12-point lead, but Lebron James answered by scoring 18 of Cleveland's next 20 points, ultimately leading a 25-7 run that he punctuated with a pair of long-rang threes and a pair of foul shots. Cleveland led, 91-85 with 32 seconds left. But Utah clawed back and won at the buzzer with a three-pointer from Sundiata Gaines, a Queens, N.Y., native signed from the D-League last week, making just his fifth NBA appearance. The game-winning shot was his first NBA three-pointer. The Jazz scored 12 points in the final 32 seconds, a rate of 270 points per quarter.


College Basketball Notebook: Tar Heels In Trouble

Roy Williams

One Great Season

With exactly two months left until Selection Sunday, it's about time I start posting on college basketball.

Let's do it in notebook fashion, shall we?

+ Defending champion North Carolina is in trouble this year. The Heels only lost four times last season, but already have five losses this year, three of them by double figures, including last night's 83-64 dismantling at the hands of Clemson.

+ Speaking of Clemson, don't be fooled by the Tigers' 14-3 record. It's not uncommon for them to rush out of the gate, win a bunch of games and even earn a nice national ranking. But once the February doldrums set in, for some reason, Clemson teams are rarely up to the grind and they often flame out.

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+ And speaking of flaming out, has anyone seen Cincinnati the last few games? I used to criticize Bob Huggins' teams for not being mentally strong enough to finish tight games against good teams. Late mental mistakes cost the Bearcats many close ones back then, and that seems to remain the trend under Mick Cronin, now in his fourth year there. But unlike Huggins' teams, Cronin's don't finish seasons well, missing out on the NCAA tournament with weak late-season showings the last two years.

Ashley Judd

+ Just down the road in Lexington, it's great to see John Calipari restore the tradition at Kentucky, but given his track record, you can't help but wonder what kind of trouble looms there. Nonetheless, John Wall isn't just the best freshman in the country; he's the best player. And he and DeMarcus Cousins are the best young tandem in the nation, and with Patrick Patterson manning the post, look for the Wildcats to play deep into March.

+ Back to Huggins ... As much as I wanted him out at Cincinnati long before he was fired, he's like that ex-girlfriend that I just can't get over. If West Virginia is on television, I will almost always watch. I even became a one-and-done Kansas State fan when he had a cup of coffee there. But he's got his Mountaineers playing solid basketball, and I reckon they'll get a nice tournament seed and advance to at least the second weekend.

+ The best game left on the regular-season schedule is a no-brainer. Former No. 1 Kansas visits current No. 1 Texas on Monday, Feb. 8. Each side boasts a core of veterans, a good mix of perimeter and interior players and a star freshman. Kansas' Xavier Henry is a nice scorer with three-point range and a great body for such a young guard. Texas' Avery Bradley is improving on offense, but he's a lockdown perimeter defender and a fierce competitor.

+ Don't sleep on Ohio State. Sure I'm a homer, but the earlier-than-expected return of all-everything star Evan Turner already has paid huge dividends. ET scored 23 of his career-high 32 points in the second half of a huge comeback win at No. 6 Purdue Tuesday. OSU doesn't have a great record (12-5, 2-3), but a road win like that, coupled with a healthy conference player of the  year candidate, can only boost the Buckeyes' confidence.