Analysis: How Kansas can beat Duke’s zone

Duke is notorious for its zone defense, and sports editor Michael Swain argues the steps Kansas will need to overcome in Sunday’s game to make a Final Four appearance.

Source: The Kansan

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Elite 8 Saturday Open Thread

More play-hard chart action comes to you tonight!

The Elite 8 gets underway today with four teams looking to claim the first two spots in this year’s Final Four.

SCHEDULE (All times Central)

11 Loyola vs 9 Kansas State, 5:09 PM, TBS, Atlanta, GA

Kansas State has been established as a 1.5-point favorite over the Ramblers in the first game of the Elite 8 round. Loyola has two Kansas kids on its roster who are no doubt looking forward to this matchup with K-State. Loyola has won its three NCAA Tournament games by a grand total of four points, while K-State has stifled its opponents into averaging just 60 ppg in the Tournament play. Loyola looks to make its second-ever Final Four (1963), while K-State’s drought is nearly as long (1964).

Dumb Prediction: These teams are both above average offenses paired with top-20 defenses (per KenPom). So far, K-State has been able to impose its will on everyone they’ve played in this Tournament. If the Wildcats can continue to do so, it won’t matter how much #Motivation those Kansas kids on Loyola’s roster have. Kansas State 70, Loyola 65.

9 Florida State vs 3 Michigan, 7:49 PM, TBS, Los Angeles, CA

The Wolverines enter this contest as a 4.5-point favorite over the Seminoles. Michigan is looking to make its 8th Final Four and first since 2013 (booooo) as the Wolverines exploded for 99 points in the Sweet 16 against Texas A&M. Meanwhile, Florida State has been a defensive nightmare so far in this NCAA Tournament, upsetting the 1 seed Xavier and 4 seed Gonzaga. FSU has only one previous trip to the Final Four, back in 1972.

Dumb Prediction: Both teams are in KenPom’s top-40 for adjusted offense and adjusted defense, with Michigan sporting the third-best defense in the country. If the numbers are to be believed, this game may come down to turnovers. Michigan is a top five team in terms of takeaways (steals) and, offensively, not turning it over. In contrast, FSU is merely average in those categories. I think the clock strikes midnight on this Cinderella. Michigan 80, Florida State 72.

Source: Rock Chalk Talk

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Scouting Duke

Jayhawks meet Blue Devils for a spot in the Final Four.

Kansas takes on Duke Sunday in its third consecutive Elite 8. In the Blue Devils, the Jayhawks probably have their most fearsome opponent of the tournament and of this season. Talented on both sides of the floor, beating Duke is going to require Kansas’s best played game of the season.


Duke’s offense ranks 2nd nationally, and most worrisome for Kansas, Duke is the best offensive rebounding team in the country. The Blue Devils rebound 39 percent of their misses, which means even when Kansas forces a miss they’re going to have to work hard to keep Duke from getting another shot. That’s partially why Duke ranks 10th nationally in FG% at the rim, although that’s nothing too new for the Jayhawks, as Baylor, Kansas State, and Iowa State all rank right around the Blue Devils. Still, I don’t think Kansas is relishing the thought of going against 6-11 and 6-10 on the front line, with the potential to bring 6-11 and 6-10 off the bench as well.

Duke’s main weapon is Marvin Bagley. He shoots 65 percent from two and 38 percent from three (although on limited attempts) and he’s also a better passer than his 8.8 percent assist rate would suggest.

Bagley’s number one skill, though, might be how relentless he is on the offensive glass:

He also has a 2nd jump reminiscent of Andrew Wiggins:

He’s a good ball handler, and even though he’s a lefty he’s effective going to his right. When defenses have to respect his jumper, he can get to the basket pretty easily:

And if you let him catch it down low he has a variety of ways to score even if he can’t get to the rim:

I do wonder if Kansas is going to potentially put Udoka Azubuike on him (since Bagley won’t be able to overpower him) and just park him in the lane and let Bagley take as many perimeter jumpers as he wants. It’s not a great idea, especially if Bagley gets Azubuike into foul trouble, but it might be the best way to neutralize him, especially given his rebounding.

Duke also has another monster down low in fellow freshman Wendell Carter. Carter has improved his face up game and his decision making, but his skills are best utilized down low where he can play with his back to the basket.

Carter also has great hands, so Kansas can’t leave him alone on the roll:

If Kansas manages to slow Duke’s two big men, they have to then deal with a collection of talented perimeter players, led by senior Grayson Allen. Allen is efficient both inside the arc (51 percent) and outside (37.5 percent), although the majority of his 2-point shots are either from the mid range or on floaters, as he takes just 14.6 percent of his shots at the rim.

He’s a good leaper, but I think Kansas will be able to stay in front of him and force him into some tough looks. He can make them, as you’ll see in the clip below, but it’s important to guard him 1 on 1 and not overhelp. Would you rather have Allen trying to make this shot, or an easy dump off to Bagley or Carter?

While Kansas can give Allen some room inside the arc, they’ll have to stick to him beyond it. He’s a good catch and shoot guy, but can also make them off the dribble:

It’s fair to point out Allen shot under 30 percent from three in ACC play, but I still think KU’s best chance is to try to turn him into a driver, but if they do they need to be careful about who they help off. Gary Trent is shooting 41 percent from three, but he’s another guy KU should try to turn into a driver, as he’s shooting only 42 percent from two.

Trevon Duval, meanwhile, is shooting 29 percent on 101 attempts, and even though he is an excellent passer he also turns it over quite a bit, so Kansas will want to force him to have the ball as much as possible.


Duke’s switch to zone defense has caused a lot of takes, both hot and not, about their defensive improvement. While the improvement is real, a lot of the inputs have stayed the same (that is, 2 point shooting allowed, offensive rebounding allowed, 3 point attempts allowed, etc).

The Blue Devils allow a slightly lower than average number of 3-point attempts, although after watching them play I believe that is more due to opponent choice rather than Duke specifically reducing attempts. It’s also good news for the Jayhawks that Duke ranks 256th nationally in forcing turnovers, so the Jayhawks should be able to avoid too many empty possessions.

As is normally the case with a zone, the middle is usually pretty open:

Needless to say, Lagerald Vick is going to have to have a nice game. I don’t think Kansas can or should subsist on mid range jumpers, even if they will be open, but it is a nice bailout option for a team that does make quite a few of them:

If Kansas can get any sort of dribble penetration, they should have drive and kick opportunities available, as you’ll see in these two clips:

Despite their size advantage, Duke doesn’t defend appreciably well at the rim. This is partially because their bigs can get lost in rotations:

But, you can definitely score through their big men:

Duke’s also a much worse defensive team in transition (although not terrible by any means), so the Jayhawks will want to take advantage of that as much as possible. Still, in the half court, the keys are pretty well known to anyone who has seen a zone defense: get good drive and kick opportunities, pass the ball well, make a few jumpers, and take a ton of threes.

The keys then are simple, although much easier said than done: keep Duke off the offensive glass, keep Azubuike out of foul trouble, and win the 3-point battle. If Kansas can either keep Bagley in check or keep the rest of the team in check as well as take a ton of threes, they’ll have a chance.

Source: Rock Chalk Talk

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Kansas Jayhawk News and Notes: 3.24.2018

Good luck paying me back on your zero dollar a year salary plus benefits, babe!

Kansas News

Still Dancin’: Azubuike leads Jayhawks to third straight Elite Eight appearance |
Thanks to a strong start and a hold-on-for-dear-life finish on Friday night, top-seeded Kansas knocked off No. 5 seed Clemson 80-76 at the three-ACC-school regional semifinals at CenturyLink Center to advance to the program’s third consecutive Elite Eight, where the Jayhawks will face yet another ACC squad, second-seeded Duke (29-7), in Sunday’s regional final.

Silvio De Sousa confident as ever after late free throws, win over Clemson | Chasen Point |
However many KU fans filled CenturyLink Center on Friday, there was a palpable tension as Silvio De Sousa stepped to the line in a six-point game with less than 90 seconds left.

Postgame Report Card: Kansas 80, Clemson 76 | Tale of the Tait |
KU shot it well enough — 47 percent overall and 46 percent from 3-point range — but the Jayhawks struggled to take care of the ball when it counted most and also shot just 14-of-22 from the free throw line. They’re going to have to do better in both areas on Sunday against Duke and a lot of the talk in the locker room after Friday’s victory was about how this team still has yet to play its best game of the tournament.

Jayhawks settle for stopping Gabe DeVoe’s teammates in Sweet 16 victory |
No one in Clemson basketball history ever scored more points in an NCAA Tournament game than senior guard Gabe DeVoe did Friday night in the Sweet 16.

Kansas survives close call vs. Clemson to advance to Elite Eight |
Although top-seeded Kansas looked in control against Clemson early in the second half, the Tigers rallied to make the Jayhawks sweat before KU escaped CenturyLink Center with a 80-76 victory Friday night.

Duke beats Syracuse in Sweet 16, will advance to play Kansas in Elite 8
On this night, though, Duke and Syracuse kept the score close for the entire game. But Duke answered Syracuse’s comeback attempt with some clutch buckets and free throws for the victory.

Kansas is back where dreams have so often died: ‘I think about it all the time’
Oregon last year. Villanova the year before that.

“I think about it all the time,” senior guard Devonte Graham said.

Why KU’s Svi Mykhailiuk didn’t throw that inbounds pass to an open Lagerald Vick
“I told Svi, ‘Get me the ball,'” Graham said. “I feel real confident in my ability to make free throws, and I knew they were going to have to foul.”

A Clemson player dared Kansas guard Lagerald Vick to shoot. It didn’t go over well
The ball reached Lagerald Vick a step in front of the Clemson bench, and the verbal jabs immediately followed.

“Can’t hit that,” one Clemson player shouted toward the court.

Vick paused with the ball on his hip, baiting Clemson center Elijah Thomas to inch closer to the three-point line. As Thomas eventually neared, Vick sized up a shot, and then he released it.


Thanks to a treadmill and some Self help, Kansas on verge of Final Four after takedown of Clemson – The Athletic
OMAHA – Kansas coach Bill Self has had a treadmill on the practice floor for years. It helped him win a national championship as the tool to get Brandon… (ed note- i’m really intrigued by the first 2 paragraphs of this story but the rest is behind a paywall FYI)

March Madness: Previewing Duke vs Kansas, rest of Elite Eight |
But the numbers in front of the names don’t matter at this point. The winners will head to the Final Four, and the losers will go home. “So much is matchups, and there’s so many good teams not playing this weekend,” said Kansas State coach Bruce Weber, whose ninth-seeded team will face No. 11 seed Loyola-Chicago on Saturday in Atlanta. “That’s what I kept emphasizing to our guys. I don’t care how we got here, we’re playing.”

NCAA Tournament 2018: Duke and Kansas give us the blue bloods we need for the Elite Eight –
But Cinderellas should know their place. And the place for so many Cinderellas is the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, not the second weekend — and certainly not in the Final Four.

Kansas into Elite Eight vs Duke, led by Udoka Azubuike |
After the final seconds of Kansas’s latest triumph in this NCAA tournament had ticked away, Udoka Azubuike, parked on the bench after picking up his fifth foul with 2:30 left in the second half, stood up, looked out at the jubilant tableau unfolding before him and began clapping. A towel draped over his shoulders and a black brace supporting his left knee, Azubuike dapped up a teammate, senior guard Devonté Graham, before entering the handshake line and joining another one, sophomore guard Malik Newman, for interviews on press row.

After back-to-back Elite Eight exits, Bill Self, Devonte’ Graham and Kansas look to get over the hump |
No, the Kansas Jayhawks moved on Friday night — but now they face the ghosts of their own past. They had heard the thuds of falling big names elsewhere. Virginia and Xavier, North Carolina and Arizona, and Cincinnati and Kentucky. Plop, plop, plop. Not for them, and maybe that’s why they rolled up a 20-point lead on Clemson before scuffling to the finish line to win 80-76.

2018 NCAA Tournament: Bill Self on cusp of his best coaching job with not-at-all-soft Kansas –
It is not breaking news to fans of Kansas basketball that this season has at times seemed like one of the most trying seasons in recent memory. Kansas, a program that had lost only 10 games at home since Bill Self took over in 2003, lost three games at home this season. The team was too reliant on guard play due to a total lack of frontcourt depth. Fans waited for freshman big man Billy Preston to become eligible, but that never happened. The team could shoot it but could not get to the rim. For much of the season, Kansas has ranked at or near the bottom of college basketball in the percentage of its point that come from the free-throw line, an indicator of an imbalanced roster.

Source: Rock Chalk Talk

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Kansas vs Duke Quick Primer

Jayhawks take on Blue Devils for a spot in the Final Four.

Following KU’s 80-76 win over Clemson on Friday night, Duke knocked off Syracuse by a 69-65 score. Here’s a quick snapshot of how the two teams stack up.

Duke is one of those vaunted KenPom top-20 offensive and defensive teams; not only that, but they are in the top-10 of both categories. Additionally, Duke is statistically the best offensive rebounding team in the country, something that does not bode well for Kansas, as the Jayhawks have struggled to keep even mediocre offensive rebounding teams from cleaning up on the glass.

By my admittedly non-coaching eye, Duke seems to have adopted a 2-3 zone, which I believe they have played almost exclusively this tournament. In the Sweet 16, Syracuse appeared to have plenty of open shots, and knocked down 49% of them from the floor. However, the Orange hit just 4-13 threes (30.8%), so Kansas will not only have to hit their shots in the soft spots of that zone, but hit their open threes as well.

Duke’s nine losses this year came by an average of 4.6 points; the Blue Devils have lost just one game by more than 5 points (96-85 at NC State). Barring a statistically unlikely showing from both sides – i.e., KU hitting 60% of its threes to Duke’s 15% – it’s unlikely the Jayhawks will be able to blow out the Blue Devils. However, if KU goes cold from behind the arc – something not unheard of for KU in March – Duke could have an opportunity to run away with this one.

Duke’s freshman frontcourt combo of Wendell Carter Jr and Marvin Bagley III will be a tough matchup for KU. Udoka Azubuike will have the size advantage in the paint, but Duke may try to pull him out to the perimeter to create space and mismatches. The Jayhawks will need productive minutes from Silvio de Sousa and Mitch Lightfoot, especially if Doke gets into foul trouble.

On offense, Kansas will need to attack, attack, attack. The Jayhawks will need “A” games from everyone – Graham, Svi, Newman, Vick, and Doke. If the guards can be aggressive and penetrate, it will open up room for shooters to shoot and for dunkers to dunk. If KU can turn this into a three-point shooting contest, I like their chances.

However you want to look at it, it’s a tough matchup for both squads. It’s not like you can get to the Elite 8 and expect an easy game against a 9 or 11 seed – after all, that’s just ludicrous.

Source: Rock Chalk Talk

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Kansas holds off Clemson, 80-76

Jayhawks advance to the Elite 8 in Omaha.

KU continues to dance as the Jayhawks held off a huge second half Clemson rally and pulled out an 80-76 victory in the Sweet 16.

The Jayhawks would open up the game with an 11-4 run to start, capped by a Malik Newman layup with 15:37 to go until the half. Clemson would scrape back into it, though, pulling to within 20-19 on a Mark Donnal dunk with 8:38 to go. However, Kansas jumped on a 15-3 run and coasted into halftime with a 40-27 lead.

Kansas continued to apply pressure early in the second half. The Jayhawks opened the half on a 9-2 run, and would eventually build a 20-point, 62-42 lead with 12:01 to go. But Clemson’s comeback would be slow and methodical. The Jayhawks still had an 11-point, 74-63 lead with just 2:43 to go, but foul trouble was mounting on Devonte Graham and Udoka Azubuike. Doke eventually fouled out a few seconds later, with just 2:30 to play, and KU continued to act like they’d never seen a full court press or a half-court trap before.

Fortunately for the Jayhawks, Clemson did not have a Trey Burke impersonator on their team. The Tigers pulled to within 77-72 with 19 seconds left, but KU was able to make just enough free throws to keep the game out of reach and advance to the Elite 8 by an 80-76 final score.

Devonte Graham really struggled (again) in this one. Even though he had 16 points, it came on 4-12 shooting while dishing out just 4 assists vs 3 turnovers. D’Tae added 5 rebounds for good measure.

The Tigers really had no answer for Udoka Azubuike down low, as the big guy abused Clemson’s interior for 14 points on 7-9 shooting, with 11 rebounds and 2 blocks. He did have an issue with fouls; while a couple of the foul calls were questionable (at best), he also had some silly fouls where he should have known better.

Clemson’s Gabe DeVoe had a career-high 31 points on 10-17 shooting. DeVoe made some amazing shots, and really played the game of his life. If he had just a little more help, Clemson may have been able to knock off Kansas.

The magic 40 number strikes again, as Kansas hit 10-23 three-pointers (43.5%) and held Clemson to rebounding 37.8% of their misses.

Up next, the Jayhawks will await the winner of Duke-Syracuse on Sunday, March 25, time TBD, for a bid to the Final Four in San Antonio.

Source: Rock Chalk Talk

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Kansas tennis snaps 13-match losing streak against Texas Tech with a 4-0 sweep

Jayhawk tennis swept the Texas Tech Raiders 4-0 on Friday in Lubbock, Texas, snapping a 13-match losing streak against the team.

Source: The Kansan

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Kansas vs Clemson Open Game Thread

Hello, Omaha!

Kansas (29-7, 13-5) ranked #4 in the final regular season AP Poll.

Clemson (25-9, 11-7) finished #20 in the final regular season AP Poll.

The Tigers are coached by Brad Brownell, who is 149-112 in his eighth season at Clemson. Brownell is 316-197 in 16 seasons overall, with previous stops at UNC Wilmington and Wright State.

These two schools have never met in men’s basketball.

Bill Self is 36-13 at Kansas in the NCAA Tournament, and KU is 106-45 all-time in NCAA Tournament games.

For everything you don’t need to know about Clemson, click here.

For a more in-depth preview of Clemson, click here.

For details on how to watch, click here.

Rock Chalk!

Source: Rock Chalk Talk

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Kansas’ inability to put away games almost handed Clemson a win

Although Kansas has advanced to the Elite Eight against Duke in the NCAA tournament, the Jayhawks inability to lock down clear wins almost cost them Saturday night’s Sweet Sixteen matchup against Clemson.

Source: The Kansan

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KU Predictions: Clemson

Our experts tell you how tonight’s Sweet 16 matchup is going to go.

It’s the Sweet 16, and things have pretty much gone to plan so far for the Kansas Jayhawks. Tonight, they face the Clemson Tigers for the right to go to the Elite Eight. But this tournament has been one of true madness, so can KU avoid being yet another upset?

Fizzle406: You can’t take any games lightly at this point. I think it’s going to be a tough matchup but I like Kansas to pull it out at the end. Kansas 74, Clemson 68

Mike.Plank: Clemson was just 3-4 against the top-25 this year, but only one of their 10 losses came to a team that didn’t make the NCAA Tournament. But it’s still Clemson, right? The football school? I will also take the Jayhawks 74-68.

Kyle_Davis21: Clemson’s two-point defense is legitimately good, but Kansas has to feel better about this matchup than Seton Hall. Not only should Udoka be healthier, but I can’t foresee Devonte’ having another off game like he did in the second round. Clemson also gives up quite a few 3-pointers (nearly 22 attempts per game) and the Tigers are not nearly as good on the offensive glass as Seton Hall (252nd in the country). Kansas still hasn’t played its A game in this tournament, and giving Self nearly a week to prepare, and I like the Jayhawks to win a close one. Kansas 72, Clemson 67

David: Clemson will shoot 12-21 from three point range. A late comeback attempt will come up just short. Clemson 76, Kansas 72

dnoll5: Kansas under Bill Self has a pretty good record in the Sweet 16 if I’m not mistaken, so I’m not going against KU now. According to all I’ve read, the Jayhawks seem to match up well against the Tigers. Let’s play on Sunday, that’s what I’m thinking. Kansas 79, Clemson 67.

Andy Mitts: I’m expecting this game to go true to form for the Jayhawks, in that Clemson is going to get off to a hot start, making us all sweat endlessly. Then Kansas will make a run late in the first half, things will go back and forth for a while, and then KU makes a final push, led by Devonte Graham’s leadership and Malik Newman going off from 3. Kansas 75, Clemson 71.

Source: Rock Chalk Talk

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