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2019 NCAA tournament preview: Kansas

Kansas Jayhawks: 25-9, 12-6 in the Big 12

Head coach: Bill Self (16th season)

Key players: Dedric Lawson (19.1 PPG, 10.3 RPG); Ochai Agbaji (8.7 PPG, 4.8 RPG); Devon Dotson (12.1 PPG, 3.6 APG)

Season recap: Although Kansas reached the championship game of the Big 12 tournament, the deck had not been stacked in its favor this season. With a season ending injury to star center Udoka Azubuike and the threat of an NCAA investigation looming over the team, the Jayhawks faced adversity both on and off the court. Kansas started on a 10-game winning streak before it took its first loss of the season. Since that first defeat, Bill Self's squad had a season full of ebbs and flows. This has been unusual for this usually dominant team as they’ve earned the title of conference champions fourteen years in a row.

The secret to the Jayhawks' early success was big additions to the roster over the summer. Dedric Lawson, a transfer from Memphis who sat out last season, is now the leading scorer for Kansas. The 6-foot-9 forward puts up 19.1 points per game, and his skillset lies beyond the arc as well. Unfortunately for Kansas, the second big scorer for the Jayhawks, Lagerald Vick, took a leave of absence in early February and it was recently announced that he would not return. Although by now, the team has had time to adjust without him on the court, they are still feeling the void on offense.

Kansas has a streak of appearing in the NCAA tournament that goes back to 1984. The Jayhawks are three-time NCAA tournament winners, with their latest success in 2008. However, the team has some work to do with their defense if they want to earn an NCAA title this year.

How they make a run: Kansas is able to rely on its Lawson to make successful plays to carry the team to victory in a similar fashion to its Big 12 tournament run.

How they falter: The Jayhawks have had a hard time getting a rhythm this season and this is partly due to their entire starting lineup being new additions to the team. With all the turmoil, this severely depleted Kansas squad faces a quick end to the season in the big dance.


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