When the Jayhawks take the floor against the Northeastern Huskies on Thursday, they’ll be doing so with one of the most inexperienced teams in the NCAA Tournament.
Marcus Garrett – who is still not 100 percent healthy – has seen a whopping total of 77 minutes during his time at Kansas. Those all came last year when the Jayhawks made their run to the Final Four. However, he only eclipsed 20 minutes in one game and that was the first round game against Penn.
As a junior, Mitch Lightfoot has seen just 54 minutes of tournament action. Like Garrett, he too has only once seen more than 20 minutes in an NCAA Tournament game – also against Penn.
So as a team, the 4-seed Kansas Jayhawks bring just 131 minutes of NCAA Tournament experience between two players into the Big Dance and neither one of them are starters.
The Lawson brothers? Never played in an NCAA tournament game when they were at Memphis. Charlie Moore? Didn’t play in an NCAA tournament game when he was at Cal. And obviously the freshmen haven’t seen any playing time either.
On a positive note, the Huskies don’t have any players with NCAA tournament experience either. However, they do have a roster with a lot of upperclassmen: three seniors and five juniors to be exact.
Experience matters in March and this Kansas team doesn’t have much of it. There’s no senior leader like Devonte Graham or Frank Mason to carry the team deep into the tourney. None of these players, aside from Garrett and Lightfoot, have played in these type of games before and those two are not the type of leaders and players who can carry a team.
If the Jayhawks hope to win on Thursday and make a run, they’re going to need their freshmen to play beyond their years. Devon Dotson has shown flashes of that the past couple weeks and Quentin Grimes scored in double figures every game during the Big 12 Tournament.
David McCormack has also stepped up his game since becoming a starter. He’s averaged 10.8 points and 5.8 rebounds over the last five games. The Jayhawks will need their McDonald’s All-Americans to keep up this production and play to their potential for KU to reach the Sweet 16.
Will these young Jayhawks have the poise to win a high-pressure, win-or-go-home NCAA Tournament game? We’ll find out in Salt Lake City on Thursday at 3 p.m. CT.
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