The second day in the round of 32 provided some great games, but only one real upset, as Stanford beat Kas snas 60-57 to make it into the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in six years, leaving out another team with a freshman that was supposed to be going places this season.
Andrew Wiggins had what might have been his worst game as a college basketball player, and also his final. He hasn’t announced anything yet, but after his four points performance, continuing two weeks of decline since his 41-point performance against West Virginia, it’ll be a shock if he actually stays in Lawrence for another season. Joel Embiid didn’t play which was a huge blow for Kansas, but Wiggins was just as ineffective as someone not playing a single minute.
Stanford already caused a mini-upset against New Mexico, but not that many people were really surprised in the round of 64. But against the Jayhawks? The zone defense worked to perfection, even though Kansas have been the best team in the Big 12 this season against the zone. Taking out a meaningful piece like Embiid from the puzzle eventually hurt them a bit too much.
The Jayhawks were only 27.6% from the field against the zone defense and shot 32.8% from the field overall , including 5-of-16 from beyond the arc. Wiggins and Perry Ellis were a combined 1-of-8 from the field against the zone, as Tarik Black looked like the only player slightly comfortable against the Stanford defense throughout the game, finishing with 18. Conner Frankamp, scoring 12 points on four 3-pointers, had a chance to tie the game with the final shot, but instead of someone setting him up for the three, he had to do it all himself, not his strongest suit, and didn’t even hit the rim.
Four Cardinal players finished in double figures: Dwight Powell had 15 points with 7 rebounds, Chasson Randle scored 13 points to go with his six steals in a fantastic defensive performance; Stefan Nastic and Anthony Brown had 10 points each, and Stanford came through with the win thanks to dominating the paint and defense, having missed all of their nine 3-point attempts.
Kansas struggled to score in the paint, shooting a season-low 32.3% and scoring only 20 points from close range, always a recipe for a loss for the Jayhawks, who finish the season at 1-3 when scoring less than 25 points in the paint. Wiggins missed all of his three attempts when he actually made his way in there.
So the Cardinal make the Sweet Sixteen for the first time under head coach Johnny Dawkins, one of three Pac-12 teams remaining. Kansas, the “pride” of the Big 12 have now been knocked out by a #10 or lower seed for the fourth time in the last 10 years. In all these occasions, they came in as one of the top 4 seeds (#2 this time), matching that “achievement” with Georgetown.
Kansas weren’t a one-and-done team like Kentucky (who are moving along nicely), but their freshman were the basis of everything. The moment one of them went down and the other didn’t cope with the change as well, even a limited team like Stanford were enough to outplay them.