Observations: Kansas is on a roll and it couldn’t come at a better time

Kansas has the inside track to be the NCAA Tournament’s No. 1 seed.

And the Jayhawks are starting to make this look easy.

Bill Self’s squad ripped through Texas 86-56 on Monday night in Austin, Texas like a chainsaw through butter and now sit at 26-4 overall heading into Saturday’s regular season finale against Iowa State at Phog Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas has convincingly won college basketball’s best conference outright and now should be in prime position to earn the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament when the bracket is announced on March 13.

In a college basketball season that has been filled with unpredictability, one of the only predictable things has been the Jayhawks’ consistency.

Kansas has now won 10 straight games and hasn’t lost since Jan. 25 at Iowa State.

Cal will be America’s trendy pick to make the Sweet 16

This is the team that many envisioned we’d see why Cuonzo Martin signed both Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb last spring.

The Bears haven’t just been impressive during their recent seven-game winning streak: they’ve been explosive.

Cal is averaging 80.2 points during that span and has given up 65 or more points in just two of those seven victories.

Potent offense?

Check.

Hard-nosed defense?

Check.

Multiple potential first-round picks?

The Bears have that too.

This team is going to be a common darling in office pools across America in two weeks.

It will be interesting to see how Cal (21-8) handles the increased spotlight Thursday night at Arizona.

Florida’s game against Kentucky is like found money

Mike White had great success during his four-year run as head coach of Louisiana Tech, but the one knock people had on him was he never took the Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament.

Will that change during his first year at Florida?

It may depend on what happens Tuesday against Kentucky in Gainesville, Florida.

The Gators fell to 8-8 in SEC play after Saturday’s loss at LSU and Florida won’t get a better opportunity to boost their potential NCAA standing than the one it has against the Wildcats.

The Gators finish the season on the road at Missouri this weekend and that’s a game where Florida truly has more to lose than it has to win.

The Gators have lost four of their last five.

Kansas' Perry Ellis led the Jayhawks to a rout of Texas on Monday. (USATSI)
Kansas’ Perry Ellis led the Jayhawks to a rout of Texas on Monday. (USATSI)

This and That

Wisconsin’s Vitto Brown didn’t make a single 3-point shot in his career prior to this season. This year he’s drilled 23 shots from long distance. The 6-foot-8 junior has made a “Bo Ryan” type jump under Greg Gard.

Oregon’s Elgin Cook has gotten to the free throw line 22 times in his last two games. The 6-6 senior has been the Ducks’ second-best player this season behind Dillon Brooks and is averaging 14.2 points and 4.6 rebounds while shooting 46.8 percent.

Why are many people including myself going to pick Michigan State to win the national title? One could make the argument that the Spartans have the best player (Denzel Valentine), coach (Tom Izzo), and shooter (Bryn Forbes) that will play in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. That’s quite the trifecta.

People in New Jersey are going to be talking about Seton Hall’s sophomore class — Isaiah Whitehead, Khadeen Carrington, Ish Sanogo, Desi Rodriguez, and Angel Delgado — for years to come. This is the class that changed the Pirates’ program.

One important thing to remember when you watch Houston have all this success under Kelvin Sampson: the Cougars return everyone next season except LeRon Barnes and Devonta Pollard. This program is also still very much in the mix for Jarrett Allen — one of the Top-20 prospects — in the Class of 2016. The Cougars are 21-8 overall and next host Cincinnati on Thursday night. Tipoff is at 9 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.

The most underrated freshman class in the country belongs to Oregon State. Three of the Beavers’ top-four scorers — Tres Tinkle, Drew Eubanks, and Stephen Thompson Jr. — are all in their first year of college basketball and all three have had a major impact in Corvallis. This squad looks like a lock to be in an 8-9 or 7-10 game during the Round of 64.

Monmouth’s King Rice told CBS Sports over the weekend that Deon Jones (10.4 points, 6.2 rebounds) still isn’t closing to playing. Jones — the Hawks’ second best player — suffered a broken hand a few weeks ago and hasn’t played since Feb. 15. The NCAA selection committee will be paying very close attention to Jones’ status if Monmouth doesn’t win the MAAC Tournament and is under consideration for an at-large bid to the field of 68.

Buzz Williams has Virginia Tech at 8-8 in ACC play and the Hokies haven’t had sophomore Ahmed Hill all season due to a patella injury. Virginia Tech closes out the regular season at home against Pitt and Miami. The Hokies are 16-13 overall.

USC is trending downward. The Trojans have lost five of their last six games and are now 19-10 overall and 8-8 in Pac-12 play heading into this week’s games against Oregon State and Oregon. Andy Enfield’s team needs a split over its next two to feel safe about its NCAA Tournament chances.

Eric Musselman has quietly done a very job solid in his first year at Nevada. The Wolf Pack are 18-10 overall and 10-6 in Mountain West play. Nevada has won five of its last six games and will next travel to Boise State on Wednesday before closing out the regular season at home against New Mexico.

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