Pollard: Kansas/Villanova Is De Facto National Championship

Kansas would beat either Michigan or Loyola in the championship, Pollard says

Taz and the Moose
March 27, 2018 - 10:51 am

USA Today Images


The Kansas Jayhawks were the No. 1 seed in the Midwest, so the fact that they reached the Final Four isn’t necessarily surprising. At the same time, though, it is.

In fact, former Jayhawk and NBA player Scot Pollard believes this may have been Bill Self’s best coaching job.

“He has always been obviously a great coach,” Pollard said on Taz & The Moose, “but I’ve been saying it all year and I can’t back off of this statement: This is the latest talented, from top to bottom, team that Bill Self has had since he’s been at Kansas – and they’re in the Final Four. That’s a heck of a coaching job. The guy always maximizes talent. He always develops players.”

Kansas beat Duke, 85-81, in an overtime thriller Sunday to reach the Final Four for the first time since 2012. Malik Newman stole the show for the Jayhawks, scoring a game-high 32 points, including all 13 of Kansas’ points in overtime. But Devonte’ Graham has been the team leader all season.

“Devonte’ Graham is pulling a Frank Mason,” Pollard said. “I did not like him his first three years there, but all of a sudden for whatever reason – whether it’s maturity, buying into Coach Self or whatever it is – Frank Mason became a man his senior year and dragged the team as far as he could and became the Player of the Year with the Wooden Award. Devonte’ is in the running for the same thing, and he’s dragging this team with no legitimate post threat.”

Center Udoka Azubuike had nine points and eight rebounds in 19 minutes against Duke.

“I’m not knocking Azubukie,” Pollard said. “He shoots a high percentage, but it’s because most of his baskets are gift-wrapped for him – meaning they’re alley-oops, they’re tip-ins. He’s not down there making moves in the post consistently. Now once in a while he does make some great moves and surprises you, but Udoka is not a classic, great-footwork, awesome-post-moves kind of center. They’re doing it with three-point shooting. When they miss their three-point shooting, they’re still getting wins. This team is absolutely blowing my mind of how good they are now compared to where they looked last fall.”

Kansas (31-7) will face No. 1 Villanova (34-4) in the Final Four this Saturday at 8:49 p.m. ET. How do the Jayhawks match up with the Wildcats?

“Not at all,” Pollard said. “They’re bigger, they’re stronger, they’re more athletic, and they’ve got big guys inside that are more polished than ours. But we just beat the best team in the country. I really believe Duke was the best team top to bottom in the country, and we just beat them. We have to have another heroic effort from our whole team in order to knock down Villanova. This is going to be the championship game.” 

Pollard believes Kansas would beat either team it would face in the national championship.

“Neither team is going to be as good, no matter who it is, whether it's Michigan or Loyola-Chicago,” he said. “They’re not as good as the last two teams we beat assuming we get to the championship game. This Villanova team now is the best team left. We need another magical performance to overcome a more talented team, but we got the coach, we got the heart, we got the momentum. I like our chances.”