The biggest story in college basketball this year was Arkansas State’s run to the Elite Eight, and its head coach and his team are making the NCAA tournament for the first time in four years.
It’s a remarkable feat, but it was never supposed to happen.
Arkansas State lost to Louisiana Tech in the NCAA Tournament last week, and the Beavers were not supposed to be in the conversation for the NCAA title.
The Beavers had to overcome a 6-2 start, and were expected to be a top-five team.
They were not.
On Monday, however, the Beavs made it back into the top five in the final polls.
Arkansas is in the second round of the NCAA Tourney tournament, and their only loss came at home to Vanderbilt, which is no longer considered a threat to the title.
This week, Arkansas State is expected to play two other teams, including the defending champion Kentucky Wildcats, which could be a big factor.
Kentucky lost its first two games of the season, and has lost four straight games since beating Texas Tech.
This team has shown flashes of brilliance this season.
Senior forward Jamal Jackson is a beast in the post, and is averaging 14.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.5 assists.
Jackson is also one of the best scorers in the nation, and should be able to knock down shots from deep.
Averaging 15.6 points per game this season, he has been one of college basketball’s most efficient scorers.
Jackson and Jackson’s team are playing their best basketball of the year.
Freshman guard Kobi Simmons has been stellar this season with 15.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.2 steals per game.
Simmons has been a force in the middle, as he has grabbed 8.8 rebounds per game, which has helped his team to the best mark in the conference.
Freshman forward Ben Moore has been playing well, averaging 15.7 points per contest, and also grabbing 6.2 rebounds per contest.
Moore is also a threat off the dribble, and he has a knack for finishing at the rim.
Moore is a big, powerful man who is one of only three players in the country to average 15.5 points, 7.7 boards, and 3.6 assists per game in his career.
Another big reason why Moore is the nation’s best point guard is because of his ability to shoot the ball.
In his career, Moore has averaged 17.6 percent from deep, which ranks eighth in the Big 12.
He is also capable of making jump shots, as evidenced by his career-high 32.7 percent from three-point range last season.
This season, Moore is also shooting at a higher percentage, making 70.7.
With Moore and Simmons leading the way, the Jayhawks should be one of these teams to win it all.
The other big reason for the Beaver success is their bench.
Senior forward Isaiah Davis has been an integral part of this team this season and should help the Beafers.
Davis averages 12.2 point, 6 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, and 0.9 steals per contest in his 13 games played.
Davis is also strong at the foul line, as the 6-6, 230-pounder averages 3.8 fouls per contest this season as a starter.
Jayhawks sophomore center Jordan Loveridge is a tremendous defender, and will be a key to this team’s success.
Loveridge is averaging 9.2 boards per contest as a reserve, and his 10.4 rebounds per 36 minutes this season are second in the league.
Junior guard Marcus Watson has also shown flashes this season of making shots off the bounce.
Watson is averaging 7.6 boards per game and shooting 44.3 percent from the floor, which would be a huge upgrade over his previous numbers.
Jalen Murray is also getting back to his old self, and with Moore and Jacksons leading the charge, Murray is expected as one of those key players.
Murray is a versatile player who can guard multiple positions on the floor.
He has been the best rebounder in the SEC this season (5.9 per game), and he also is a terrific scorer.
Murray and Jones are also capable scorers, with Jones averaging 11.3 rebounds per 40 minutes this year.
Senior guard Tyus Jones has been solid as well, and averaging 13.3 point, 8.4 assists, 1,8 rebounds, 3.3 steals, and 4.5 blocks per game for the Jayhawk team.
Jones is also averaging 7 rebounds per minute and shooting 53.5 percent from behind the arc, which will help the Jayhawes offense.
The most important player on the Jayavas roster is sophomore guard Chase