At the beginning of the year, people had a lot to say about Kansas. We were saying that the Jayhawks lost their entire national championship team from last year, or that Sherron Collins was the only real contributor returning.
Now, as a three seed in the Sweet 16 preparing for a very winnable re-match with Michigan State, a third consecutive trip to the Elite Eight looks very possible.
The obvious and major keys to the Jayhawks' success so far have been the play of Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich.
Collins needs to continue on his scoring tear and must shoot a relatively high percentage from the field. His shot selection has improved greatly since the loss to Baylor, and his decision-making has been consistent, as taking care of the ball has been a priority for him.
Aldrich needs to be a monster on the boards for Kansas to have a good chance against the Spartans. His defense has been perhaps the biggest reason for the tourney success so far. His 10-block performance against Dayton is hopefully a sign of things to come against MSU; he must continue to alter shots and shot selection.
The one thing Collins needs to do a better job of is getting Aldrich the ball consistently. If the Jayhawks can wear down the Spartans' interior and get to the free throw line, it will be Kansas' game for the taking.
Tyshawn Taylor has been inconsistent throughout the season. He has shown flashes of brilliance but has also shown his youth, as in the contest against Dayton (six turnovers). He needs to take care of the ball against the Spartans, and must make good decisions with his shot selection. Kansas can not afford unnecessary turnovers.
The Morris twins need to stay out of foul trouble. Kansas needs them to play extended minutes, use their bodies to bang down low, and help Aldrich with his rebounding burden; he certainly can't do it alone against MSU. They'll want to make sure they are in position on defense and that they do not pick up sloppy fouls when caught off-guard. In terms of offense, 15 points between the two of them should be enough.
Between Reed and Morningstar, one of the two needs to make three-pointers consistently and be a viable defensive option alongside Taylor and Collins. Reed has provided great ball-handling and poise so far in the Dance, while Morningstar has not found his longball and has gotten burned on defense by more athletic players. Either he finds his shot or Bill Self pulls him on favor of Reed.
This region is winnable for the Jayhawks. They can't let their youth become a factor; hopefully, Collins and Aldrich are the only upperclassmen necessary to carry this squad to the Final Four.