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To the addictive and casual basketball fan alike, the narrative was ripe for an upset. A matchup between Kansas, the overachieving, ultra-talented regular season that underachieves in the postseason against UConn, the underachieving regular-season squad that has two national championships to its name over the past five years. Then the Jayhawks ran out to an 18–5 lead. Then they held UConn scoreless for over six minutes to build a 24-point lead. The narrative was over before the end of the half.
The Jayhawks blitzed the Huskies for a 73–61 win on Saturday night, solidifying their role as the favorites to win the tournament after the unlikely departure of Michigan State. The Jayhawks held UConn to 26% from the field in the first half despite the Huskies making five of their 10 three-point attempts, and Perry Ellis overcame an early cramp to finish with 21 points and eight rebounds. Wayne Selden Jr. contributed 22 points in a game that wasn’t particularly close from the start.
Why It Matters
The Jayhawks are known for their untimely exits from the tournament, but after their 16th consecutive victory (and one in completely dominant form), they should be considered the outright favorite for the national title. Bill Self’s squad features a balance of perimeter threats and inside-out play to keep any team off-balance. Selden Jr.’s exceptional play from the perimeter coupled with Ellis’s versatility will cause problems for any team facing the Jayhawks in the coming rounds, and their destruction of the Huskies may just be the beginning.
Kansas will take on the winner of Sunday’s matchup between Maryland and Hawaii in Spokane. The winner will meet the Jayhawks next week in Louisville.