2022 March Madness: Kansas Road to the Final Four
Jayhawks Last No. 1 Seed Standing
- Record: 32-6
- Head coach: Bill Self
- Seed: No. 1 seed in Midwest Regional
- Up next: Saturday vs. Villanova in national semifinal, 6:09 p.m. ET
- Kansas prediction: Kansas (+180) has the best odds to win the national championship
Title odds before the season:
Kansas was listed at +1400 to win its first title since 2008.
How they got here:
Defeated Texas Southern 83-56, Creighton 79-72, Providence 66-61 and Miami 76-50
Previous Final Four appearances:
1940 (finalist); 1952 (national champions); 1953 (finalist); 1957 (finalist); 1971; 1974; 1986; 1988 (national champions); 1991; 1993; 2002; 2003 (finalist); 2008 (national champions); 2012 (finalist); 2018.
Road to the Final Four: Kansas vs College Spread
The Big 12 regular-season co-champions and tournament champions have won nine games in a row, but are just 2-2 against the spread in the NCAA Tournament. Kansas opened against Texas Southern as a 21½-point favorite, its largest spread since being favored by 24 against Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 18.
Aided by five points in the last four seconds, Kansas led by 28 points at halftime. The SWAC champions did cut the lead to 24 points but failed to make a field goal in the final 3:32 as Kansas covered for the fifth game in a row. The game went under the 145½-point total.
It was a much tougher task two days later against Creighton. Kansas was favored by 13 points, but Creighton led by as many as six points in the first half. A pair of Arthur Kalama foul shots put the Bluejays up by a point with 41 seconds left in the first half, but Remy Martin’s two free throws gave the Jayhawks the 39-38 lead at the break. Creighton never regained the lead in the second half but stayed within one or two possessions for the majority of the half.
Kansas finally got some breathing room as a 3-pointer by Jalen Coleman-Lands made it a nine-point lead with 8:29 remaining. Creighton was back within four less than two minutes later. It was a one-point game with 1:57 left to play. A steal and dunk by All-American Ochai Agbaji with 53 seconds left were followed by two foul shots each by Martin and Jalen Wilson as Kansas advanced to the regionals with a seven-point win. It was the only game for Kansas in the NCAA Tournament to go over the total.
A 3-pointer by Creighton’s Trey Alexander with 2:29 left to play sent the game over the 141-point total.
The next game was also a tussle as Big East regular-season champion Providence trailed by double digits twice in the first half but didn’t go away quietly. The Friars came all the way back to take the lead on a Noah Horschler hoop with 5:52 left to play. Eight straight points by the Jayhawks allowed them to regain control of the game. Providence would get no closer than four points the rest of the way. Kansas, a 6½-point favorite, missed three free throws in the final 43 seconds that would have allowed the Jayhawks to cover. The game didn’t approach the 141½-point total.
With a spot in the Final Four on the line, Kansas had its hands full with upset-minded Miami – for a half. The Hurricanes didn’t look like a team playing in the program’s first regional final as Miami took a six-point lead at halftime.
Kansas the last remaining No. 1 seed, needed all of 4:29 in the second half to take the lead. A 10-0 run put Kansas up by eight. The lead kept growing and growing as Kansas, a five-point favorite, won with ease 76-50. The defense held Miami to 15 points in the second half, which was a main reason why the game went well under the 145-point total.
Kansas is listed as a 4½-point favorite against Villanova, a line would have been different if not for the injury to Villanova starting guard Justin Moore.
Final Four History
Kansas has lost its last two games at the Final Four and also failed to cover in both of those games.
The Jayhawks fell to Kentucky 67-59 in the 2012 national championship game. The college spread listed Kansas as a six-point underdog after winning as a three-point underdog against Ohio State in the semifinals.
Kansas faced Villanova in the 2018 Final Four as a five-point underdog and was overwhelmed in a 95-79 win by the eventual national champions. That game broke a run of four straight Final Four games going under the total for the Jayhawks.
Freshman guard Bob Pettiford hasn’t played since Feb. 14. He underwent abdominal surgery and won’t play in the Final Four. He started the season playing by 59 minutes in the first four games but his minutes went down as the season wore on.
Players to Watch
Remy Martin: The transfer from Arizona State was named the Big 12’s preseason player of the year before playing his first game with the Jayhawks but dealt with injuries issues that left his status for March Madness up in the air. It is safe to say that Martin is doing more than just playing in the NCAA Tournament as he has been the Jayhawks’ most productive player. Martin has averaged 19.3 points off the bench after not scoring more than 17 points in any game before the tournament started. He also has 20 rebounds and nine assists in the last three games. He had a series of clutch plays as Kansas held off challenges from Creighton and Providence.
Ochai Agbaji: The Big 12 Player of the Year and All-American has been strangely quiet during the postseason, although he is coming off an 18-point effort in the Elite Eight win against Miami that nearly matched his point total from the previous two games combined. He has been quick to defer to teammates, but at some point he will need to play like the Jayhawks’ top offensive player as the stakes will increase in the next Kansas basketball game.
David McCormack: The 6-foot-10 senior hasn’t played more than 25 minutes in the first four NCAA Tournament games but has provided some inside muscle. His best postseason game came against Texas Tech in the Big 12 final with 18 points and 11 rebounds. When he is playing like that, the Jayhawks are hard to beat.