If you crunch the numbers there is little reason to think that Kansas would be in the position that it is. Bill Self's team has seen its points per game plummet (from 74.0 to 62.7) its free throw shooting subpar (60.6%), and its three-point shooting dismal (22.2%).
The reason this KU team is in the Elite 8 is because of defense.
Self knew in the preseason this team would need to be its best defensively for it to do special things and they have been. The Jayhawks are allowing just 55.7 ppg, 32.8 percent shooting, and just 30.4 percent from the three-point line. It is one of Self's best defensive teams in years making critical stops at the most crucial moments.
"It's one of the better ones. It's better than the last two teams we have had defensively. No question," continued Self. "But I can't say that we defend like the 2008 team by any stretch. If we rebounded the ball better, I think there would be a comparison. But I don't think we rebound the ball as well."
"I think we might try a little bit harder defensively because we understand that it might be nights where we're not hot offensively and where past teams, we just had so many weapons that could score from so many different spots, that if we wanted if we weren't all the way in tune defensively, we could cover that up by making some shots. And we knew at the beginning of the year with this team that it wouldn't be the same," said senior guard Tyshawn Taylor.
With the likelihood that Kendall Marshall does not take the floor for North Carolina today people will be clamoring for KU to press the inexperienced Stilman White. It just isn't going to happen and shouldn't happen for a variety of reasons. It doesn't mean Kansas won't "pressure" White and possible look to trap some ball screens for him, but don't expect to see a full court press unveiled by Self.
"I think where teams really screw up, we have got probably 30 minutes to practice for North Carolina, and we're not going to change who we are in that 30 minutes," said Self.
Changing to a full court press mentality would be silly. Self doesn't have a deep bench and tiring out Taylor who will likely play over 35 minutes in this one would not be wise. KU needs Taylor at his best in this game more than it needs to full court press. Down the stretch a fresh Tyshawn Taylor is way more important. Risking foul trouble without a deep bench would also not be in the game plan.
Ohio nearly beat UNC playing off White and using his defender like a rover. White played 32 minutes, had six assists and zero turnovers. Though its unlikely Kansas would let him operate in that type of comfort zone don't expect a new look either.
"We're not a team that changes a lot of things and tweaks it and be just as good doing it as we would if we just-- this is who we are, this is how we play. We'll tweak. There will be some things that we can do a little differently, but it's not going to be a major overhaul," Self said.
If Kansas prevails it will be for the same reasons it is in this position in the first place - solid defense and a whole lot of toughness.