Round Of 32 Matchup: #10 Stanford Vs. #2 Kansas
- CoachingSince taking the reins at Stanford in 2008, Johnny Dawkins has rebuilt the program in competitive form from what it once was under the likes of Mike Montgomery. This is also Dawkins’ only tournament appearance in his six years at the helm of Stanford, so the pressure is certainly on this time around, but a good win over New Mexico in the first round may have taken some of that pressure off… for now.Bill Self marks his 10th year coaching Kansas this season and in that time, he’s had an impressive run managing the Jayhawks. With 10 straight Big 12 Conference regular season championships, Self has had Kansas in the Big Dance every year he’s been their coach, and was named the National Coach of the Year in 2009 and 2001. Often in the Elite Eight and Sweet Sixteen, Self led the 2008 Jayhawks team to a National Championship and looks to do so again this season.
- OffenseIt’s probably safe to say that Stanford sealed its bid in the Big Dance with their run to the semifinals in the Pac-12 tournament, which was impressive. Leading that charge was junior guard Chasson Randle, who averaged 18.7 points per game alongside the massive 6-foot-10 senior forward Dwight Powell, who added 14.2 points per game this season, but was a dud and fouled out against New Mexico. Randle led the Cardinal with 23 points against New Mexico and helped give Stanford the edge to advance.With star center Joel Embiid out for Kansas, the responsibility will lie once again upon guard Andrew Wiggins, who led during the Eastern Kentucky first-round match up, and forward Perry Ellis. When Embiid was out during the regular season, the Jayhawks went 2-2, not giving much sense as to what they are without him. If the first round match up against the Colonels meant anything, it’s that they can survive without Embiid against low-tier teams. But not much is known about teams with more potent talent.
- DefenseThe Cardinal had some strong defensive efforts as they closed out the season, including an incredible 79-58 performance against Arizona State in the Pac-12 quarterfinals. Stanford held New Mexico for most of their first-round match up, despite the Lobos coming back strong after the half. Kansas presents an entirely new challenge for the Cardinal this time around, though, but Stanford is capable of surprises on defense.The Jayhawks defense struggled at times with Eastern Kentucky in the first-round, but was able to pull away and make stops at the end when it counted. Stanford has a more formidable offense to deal with, but Kansas could be able to hold on for one more game without its top player.
- Bench DepthStanford has a decent bench, but it was rather ineffective against New Mexico. Not only does Stanford have the one-two punch of Chasson Randle and Dwight Powell, but they also have the ability to throw other sizable players into the mix, such as reserve walk-on guard Robbie Lemons, who provided the Cardinal four crucial key throw points when they needed it.Forward Jamari Traylor leads a stacked bench that rolls deep with Kansas. The Jayhawks have one of the best starting lineups in the nation when Embiid is healthy, but their backup roster is full of players like Traylor, who had a career game with 17 points and 14 rebounds against the Colonels in the first round. Another player to watch is guard Conner Frankamp, who netted 10 points and four assists off the bench against Eastern Kentucky, as well.
Kansas got to see for themselves what they would be made of without star player Joel Embiid, and what resulted was a team that could hold its own against lower seeds until Embiid can return (if he can). If Kansas can muster that emotion from the final minutes of their match up against the Colonels, then they should be able to handle Stanford with minimal effort.