Devonté Graham is a basketball player, not a bracketologist.
“I have no idea about any of that,” said Graham, Kansas’ junior guard from Raleigh, N.C., whenasked if he felt the Jayhawks (28-4) would be awarded a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament even though they lost to TCU 85-82 in a Big 12 Tournament quarterfinal game on Thursday at the Sprint Center.
Speaking after that game, Graham’s backcourt partner, senior Frank Mason, shared the same sentiment. He had no idea if the Jayhawks’ achievements in 2016-17 would be worthy of a No. 1 seed.
“I’m not sure how that works,” Mason said. “I hope we can. I’m not really sure how high a seed (KU will receive). Whatever works. We’ll just take whatever we get, be prepared and get out there and play.”
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Everybody will find out particulars involving the 2017 NCAA Tournament on Sunday. The annual Selection Sunday show will begin at 4:30 p.m. on CBS.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, as of Saturday afternoon, had not penalized KU for the loss to TCU in his projections. The Jayhawks, who won their 13th straight Big 12 regular-season title by four games, will be the No. 1 seed in the Midwest, he indicated in a bracket at ESPN.com.
A No. 1 seed means KU would likely open the tournament on Friday in Tulsa, Okla. Two wins in Tulsa would propel the Jayhawks into a Sweet 16 contest on Thursday, March 23 at the Sprint Center. The Midwest Regional Elite Eight game is set for Saturday, March 25, in Kansas City.
CBSsports.com’s Jerry Palm also shrugged off the Jayhawks’ loss and has projected KU to be a certain No. 1 with Villanova, North Carolina and Gonzaga.
There had been some talk that North Carolina, which lost in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament, might drop to a 2 with either Oregon or Arizona claiming a No. 1 seed.
KU was considered by many to be the likely No. 2 overall seed behind Villanova prior to Saturday’s Creighton-Villanova contest.
“I have no idea, no idea,” KU coach Bill Self said of seeding. “I would have thought if we won (vs. TCU) we’d be in pretty good shape, but I have no idea now. Who knows what will happen?”
The Jayhawks will watch the Selection Sunday show as a group then meet the media afterward.
“We’ve just got to regroup and get some good practices in before the tournament,” Graham said, “watch film and learn from it (loss to TCU).”
Graham said KU must have a killer instinct in the NCAAs. The Jayhawks held a 12 point lead against TCU with 4:19 left in the first half. By halftime, TCU led 43-42.
“It went wrong when we let them go on that run and didn’t respond,” Graham said. “It’s what we talked about in here (locker room). We’ve got to put our foot on teams’ throats and not let them hang around and give them momentum and think they can play with you and you wind up losing.”
The fact KU lost Thursday did land the Jayhawks’ rotation players some rest heading into the NCAA tourney. Mason played 40 minutes against TCU. Landen Lucas logged 36 minutes, while Graham, Lagerald Vick and Svi Mykhailiuk played 35 minutes each. Carlton Bragg played 12 minutes, Dwight Coleby six and Mitch Lightfoot one, with Josh Jackson sitting out because of a one-game suspension. He’ll be back for the NCAA Tournament.
“This was a different deal. If you have another guy that plays 32 minutes it changes your whole depth situation,” Self said, pointing out KU would have had Jackson for the Big 12 semifinals and finals had KU advanced. “But ,yeah, it (rest) will be nice.
“I wasn’t hopeful it would be a one-and-out type deal at all. But it’s not the worst thing we can get our legs back under us. I just think when you are asking Frank and those guys to do so much they need to be able to get a minute or two break a couple of times a half, if at all possible, and of course we couldn’t go there (vs. TCU because of Jackson being out).”
Mason said the rotation players will be ready to play mega minutes in the NCAA tourney.
“Rest doesn’t matter. I think everyone is good. It doesn’t matter how many minutes we play,” Mason said. “Coach does a great job taking care of our bodies throughout the week. He limits our practices to a certain amount of time. Nobody needs rest or anything like that.”
KU signee Garrett update
KU signee Marcus Garrett scored 16 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in Dallas Skyline’s 46-43 triple overtime loss to Cypress Falls in Friday’s Texas Class 6A state semifinals in San Antonio.
The 6-foot-5, 180-pound Garrett is ranked No. 37 in the recruiting Class of 2017 by Rivals.com.
In the first overtime, point guard Garrett was called for charging on a drive on the final possession. Garrett, who was double-covered, missed a floater on the final possession of the second overtime.
“I felt like we had a chance in the second overtime,” Garrett told the Dallas Morning News. “I had a chance to make a play and I didn’t make it.”
Skyline trailed 45-43 when Garrett was fouled on a drive with 7 seconds left in the third overtime. He missed the first free throw, then missed the second, grabbed the rebound and missed a short bank shot that would have forced a fourth OT.
Skyline finished the season 34-2. Garrett entered the final game averaging 16.3 points, 10.2 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game. That’s right, he nearly averaged a triple double his senior season.
“To see where he is today to where he started from is unbelievable,” Skyline coach Paul Graham told the Dallas Morning News. “He’s mature. He’s a leader. It’s unbelievable to see where he is physically, mentally and spiritually.”