Sideline Report: Yet another conference title puts Kansas in the driver’s seat for a deep run in the NCAA tournament

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Braden Shaw, JagWire editor-in-chief

Before the college basketball season started, I thought this would be the year that the streak would end. Kansas had won 11 straight Big 12 regular season titles, surely they wouldn’t win their 12th consecutive title, right? Apparently, this KU team was more than capable (and don’t call me Shirley).

Thanks to victories against Texas Tech on Saturday and Texas on Monday, KU has won their 12th straight Big 12 title, the eighth title won outright. Even though the Big 12 is easily the best conference in all of college basketball, KU still manages to dominate. Other teams like Oklahoma, West Virginia and Iowa State had a shot to end the streak, but didn’t have what it took to dethrone the champs. So, one of the most impressive streaks in college sports continues.

By winning this conference title, KU is one title away from tying John Wooden’s UCLA teams from 1967-79 who won 13 consecutive titles, respectively. Also, head coach Bill Self continues his amazing run at KU by winning more conference titles (12) than home losses (9). It is almost unheard of to be on this kind of run, especially in this day of college basketball.

Parity is more evident in college sports than ever before. Smaller colleges are challenging perennial powerhouses night-in and night-out. It’s a great time to be a college basketball fan and makes the program at KU seem even more impressive.

But my point here is to say how KU’s stellar 2015-16 season thus far will impact their run in the NCAA tournament. Quite frankly, this is the best KU team since the 2008 national championship team. They have depth, size and can shoot with consistency. They are disciplined on both offense and defense and know how to win when it matters most. Amidst all of the craziness of this season, this KU team has held strong.

They are ranked No. 1 in Ratings Percentage Index, they have the 11th ranked strength of schedule and have a whopping 12 wins against teams in the top 50 RPI rankings. Their resume speaks for itself. They may have four losses, but I firmly believe that this team can beat anyone in the country. As of right now, if they aren’t the top overall seed on Selection Sunday, it’s a felony and a disgrace.

I want you to know that I’m not a KU fan by any stretch of the imagination. I am, however, a fan of great basketball. They’re a fun team to watch because they have a well-balanced attack as well as a great team mentality. Any one guy can go off on a ny given night — such as Devonte’ Graham dropping 27 points against Oklahoma or Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk hitting five three-pointers off the bench against Texas Tech. They are a dangerous team, and have to be one of the favorites to win the national title.

This team is destined for greatness. I’ve doubted them all year, when they went on that stretch of three losses in five games or when they were “losing ground” in the Big 12 rankings. Heck, I wrote an entire blog about why they wouldn’t win the Big 12 this year. They prove all of their critics wrong and have shown that they are a force to be reckoned with come tournament time.

Obviously this team isn’t perfect, judging by the four losses on their record. They have plenty of room for improvement. But right now they are playing better than anyone in the country and until I see another team play on this level, KU is the best team in the nation. Will this all translate to them cutting down the nets? Who knows, but as for now, I don’t see anyone stopping them anytime soon.

Junior Braden Shaw is a passionate sports fan who follows sports at both the college and professional level. He loves to defend his unpopular opinions on the University of Nebraska, Sporting KC, Chiefs and Royals and is always up for a debate over any game or team.

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