CBS Sports college basketball insider Jon Rothstein dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Monday to discuss numerous March Madness topics, including yet another disappointing tournament exit by Kansas. The No. 1 Jayhawks lost to No. 3 Oregon, 74-60, in the Midwest regional final Saturday, as Bill Self fell to 2-7 in Elite Eights.
Should Self still be considered an elite head coach?
“Well, what he’s done in the regular season is unprecedented,” Rothstein said on Tiki and Tierney. “I’m not making excuses, but I think one of the things that we saw on Saturday night was just a byproduct of Kansas having the polar opposite offensively of what they did in the first three games. Devonte’ Graham, in the first three games of the NCAA Tournament, was 18-of-25 from the field. He didn’t have a made field goal in the game against Oregon.”
Indeed, Graham who scored 26 points in a Sweet 16 win over Purdue, shot 0-of-7 from the floor against Oregon, finishing with just three points. Tyler Dorsey, meanwhile, scored 27 points for the second time in three games for the Ducks.
“What Tyler Dorsey did and has done is on the other side of the spectrum,” Rothstein said. “He’s 17-of-26 from three in the NCAA Tournament. I think Oregon played its best game, and I think Kansas played its worst game. Bill Self is now 2-7 in regional finals as a head coach, but this one will sting the most because the game was in Kansas City.”
Rothstein, though, was not surprised that Oregon won. He felt Kansas was a “flawed” team and “very susceptible” to teams with size. The Ducks had that.
Plus, history was not on the Jayhawks’ side.
“Kansas has had great seasons and come up short in the Elite Eight,” Rothstein said, citing recent tournament losses to VCU and Villanova, among others. “This has been a recurring pattern.”
Mark Few, meanwhile, finally broke through the Final Four door, leading No. 1 Gonzaga (36-1) to an 83-59 win over No. 11 Xavier (24-14) in the West regional final Saturday. The Zags are in the Final Four for the first time in program history.
“(He’s) as comfortable in his own skin as any coach I’ve ever covered, understands the big picture (and) doesn’t get too wired in college basketball,” Rothstein said of Few. “He obviously wants to make a point to balance college basketball and family. (He’ll) rearrange practice if one of his assistants’ kids has soccer practice or something (like) that. (He) has no problem leaving his phone in his house and going fishing and kind of just shutting down and being able to unwind. Just tries not to overthink it and understands that he has a chance to compete for a national championship and doesn’t have to go to a higher program. Why would he give up that quality of life?
“What’s more impressive?” Rothstein continued. “The fact that Mark Few got Gonzaga to a Final Four, or the fact that Mark Few has been to 18 straight NCAA Tournaments and has never missed the tournament since he’s been a Division I head coach?”
For Brandon Tierney, it’s leading Gonzaga – a former mid-major turned powerhouse – to the Final Four. Either way, Rothstein believes that Gonzaga’s late-season loss to BYU was a blessing in disguise.
“That was an elephant in the room that never got through the door,” he said. “Can you imagine if Gonzaga was undefeated at this point? The talk of Gonzaga being 37-0 going into the Final Four? That would be a completely different entity that would add to everything.”
As it stands, one-loss Gonzaga will face 10-loss South Carolina in the Final Four this Saturday in Glendale. Prior to this year, the Gamecocks had never reached a Sweet 16. Now they’re in the Final Four.
“Frank (Martin) has done an unbelievable job,” Rothstein said. “He’s taken two schools right now deep into the NCAA Tournament – Kansas State and South Carolina – and neither is known for men’s basketball.”