The 2022 NCAA Tournament was capped with Kansas defeating North Carolina 72-69 in a battle between blue bloods. The Jayhawks won their fourth national championship and first since 2008.
Fast forward a year later and Kansas’ odds to win March Madness are in great shape. The sportsbook lists KU as the second choice to win it all at +800. The Jayhawks have all of the tools to be the first team to go back-to-back since Florida in 2006 and 2007. Check out why Kansas will win its fifth NCAA Tournament.
Iron Sharpens Iron
Good luck finding a team with a better resume. The Big 12 is loaded with seven teams in the top 30 of the NCAA’s NET Rankings. The conference is also tracking for seven NCAA Tournament bids.
Kansas has excelled in its conference play gauntlet. It has the best record against quadrant-1 opponents by a wide margin at 15-6. The next-best is Baylor at 11-9 and Texas at 11-8. With a good Big 12 Tournament showing, the Jayhawks will have the top overall seed locked up. NCAA basketball odds have them as favorites to win the conference tournament at +270.
Furthermore, Kansas has turned it up a notch in the last month. From February 6-28, it enjoyed a seven-game winning streak, including wins over Texas and Baylor. KU hit a bump in the road with a 75-59 loss against No. 7 Texas on Saturday. Still, the Jayhawks check most of the boxes, making them a favorite among March Madness expert picks.
NO. 9 TEXAS ROLLS PAST NO. 3 KANSAS 🤘
The Longhorns make a big statement in their top-10 showdown with the Jayhawks 🔥 pic.twitter.com/ROzezSGUkI
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 4, 2023
Kansas Meets the Parameters
Completing NCAA Tournament brackets can get quite confusing. Many look at data points when selecting teams, especially national champions. Several trends stand out, as most ring true nearly every year.
Since 2002, every national champion finished in the Top-25 of Kenpom’s offensive and defensive efficiency. Kansas is 24th in offensive efficiency and ninth in defensive efficiency. In the last 12 tournaments, 11 national champs were ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll on Feb. 1. The Jayhawks were ranked No. 8 on Feb. 1.
Many March Madness predictions will involve Kansas making a run, and it’s with good reason. It has excellent wing play with Jalen Wilson (19.7 points) and Gradey Dick (14.3 points). Plus, guard Kevin McCullar Jr. provides impressive two-way play with 11.1 points per game and 2.1 steals per game.
Simply put, this is a tough team to guard. The Jayhawks have exceptional spacing and rank ninth in assists per game. At all times, four players on the court are capable of knocking down 3-pointers, which keeps opposing defenses honest.
Point guard Dajuan Harris Jr. could be the most important piece of the puzzle. He often goes unnoticed at 8.6 points per game. When Harris reaches a double-digit scoring total in his career, Kansas is 22-0. KU is 8-6 this season when its starting point guard scores fewer than 10 points. Harris is a great floor general and provides a lockdown defensive presence, but his scoring will be the X-factor.
What an awesome pass from Dajuan Harris. pic.twitter.com/DmHalzZ4et
— Kyle Boone (@Kyle__Boone) February 7, 2023
The defense is good enough, ranking in the top 15% nationally of every major shooting category. Plus, the unit forces more than 14 turnovers per game, which ranks in the 83rd percentile.
The Jayhawks’ biggest concern will likely be their size. The frontcourt consists of 6-foot-8 Wilson and 6-foot-7 K.J. Adams Jr. Also, 6-foot-10 Zach Clemence and 6-foot-11 Ernest Udeh Jr. play sparingly in reserve roles. Kansas ranks outside the top 140 in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. An excellent rebounding team, like Purdue or Houston, could spell trouble.
Overall, the Jayhawks are one of the best March Madness picks to win the tournament. This is a balanced team that gets it done on both ends with a pair of alpha dog scorers in Wilson and Dick.