The Kansas Jayhawks won the Big 12 regular season title and was projected to be the 1 overall seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, per ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. These accolades seemed to vanish before our eyes after 8th seed TCU beat them in the Conference Tournament Quarterfinals, by a score of 82-85.
Lunardi now sees Kansas as the third overall seed, and they will not be celebrating as the Big 12 Tourney champions. This will drive away many bracket-fillers as Selection Sunday approach, since TCU seemed to exploit their weaknesses. However, a rare loss in the Kansas resume will benefit them more than any other win could. Here’s how:
1. The Jayhawks have the opportunity to face their weaknesses and strike reality.
Last year, they were cutting down the nets as Big 12 Conference champions. They were on top of the world as the soon-to-be 1 overall seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. When a tough team approached as Villanova did, the Jayhawks were not mentally prepared to close out the game.
Learning to lose is an important lesson for tournament teams. It teaches them to win close games and adjust their team strategy for the better. If you don’t believe me, ask the three past NCAA tournament champions. None of them won their conference tournaments.
2. Conference tournament champions under-perform in the NCAA Tournament
Last year, Kansas, the Big 12 champ and favorite to win it all, failed to reach the final 4.
Michigan St., the Big 10 champ and favorite to reach the championship, lost in the first round.
Seton Hall, the Big East champ, lost in the first round.
Oregon, the Pac 12 champ and 1 seed, failed to reach the final 4.
Kentucky, the SEC champ, lost in the second round.
North Carolina was the only major conference champion to meet its expectations, but lost in the championship to the Big East runner-up.
3. Tough and unexpected losses can be used as motivation going into the tournament
Villanova lost to Seton Hall in the Big East Championship. One lost in the first round, and the other won it all. Guess who…
Why did Villanova win it all? Partially skill, but mostly due to motivation. Motivation that included Jay Wright’s head coaching position and the inability to get past the second round. They stormed past the second round, and Wright kept his job.
This was all possible due to their devastating loss in the conference tournament.
Kansas has underperformed for the past 4 years in the NCAA tournament. This loss to TCU can be their reality check as well as the boost they need to reach the final 4.
Will they win it all though? They certainly can, but there are many talented teams in the field. But that uncertainity is what makes March the greatest month of the year.