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Friday, March 19, 2010

Game spurs KU fans’ hopes for another championship

Mike Dalke, Dallas, helps his son Ben, 5, line up a pool shot at the Bricktown Brewery during a Kansas Alumni gathering before KU's game Thursday March 18, 2010. Dalke is a 1991 KU graduate. His daugher Madeline, 8, is in the background at center.

Mike Dalke, Dallas, helps his son Ben, 5, line up a pool shot at the Bricktown Brewery during a Kansas Alumni gathering before KU's game Thursday March 18, 2010. Dalke is a 1991 KU graduate. His daugher Madeline, 8, is in the background at center.

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How is your NCAA bracket doing?

  • Great 13% 99 votes
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753 total votes.

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2010 KU-Lehigh

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KU tops Lehigh after slow start

Kansas forward Marcus Morris had a career-high 24 points in the Jayhawks' victory over Lehigh.

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How many good halves do you think KU will play against Northern Iowa?

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  • Undecided 2% 64 votes

2341 total votes.

— Now that Lehigh is out of the way, you’d think Kansas fans might be ready to brace for the possible: A tough game with No. 9 seed Northern Iowa, champion of the Missouri Valley Conference, loser of four games all year.

Think again.

“Even though they’re in the toughest bracket, they’ll definitely go to the Final Four,” said Andrew Brown, a lifelong fan who’s listened to, seen or attended every KU game for the past 25 years.

He pegs KU as a 50-50 shot to win it all, but that’s not quite true. The other 50 merely accounts for KU’s chances of not losing.

“This year’s just different,” Brown said, at Ford Center for KU’s 90-74 victory Thursday over the Mountain Hawks. “They can play bad and still win by a large margin. This isn’t a Roy Williams year, when you’re a heavy favorite and you lose a second-round game to UTEP. I still remember that one. Or Rhode Island. Or Arizona.

“These guys, they’re different.”

Ask around Bricktown, or on Sheridan Avenue, or inside Ford Center, and you’re likely to come across fans with plenty of similar certainty in their crimson and blue.

Kari Kovzan and her 9-year-old daughter, Claire, are so sure of success that they’ll enjoy Oklahoma City and take next week off — passing on the regionals in St. Louis — before traveling to Indianapolis for the Final Four.

Tickets in hand and hotel rooms booked, the Kovzans now await the championship from the only team they figure can win it. “KU,” Claire said. “One hundred percent.”

Such pressure is nothing new for the Jayhawks, who started the season No. 1, ended the regular season No. 1, landed the tournament’s top seed and scored a championship prediction from President Obama and more Americans than any other school.

Be careful, advises Stacy Reed, who is father to KU guard Tyrel and team manager Lacie.

“You better think one game at a time in the NCAAs, or you’re in trouble,” he said, watching Northern Iowa’s win alongside a quiet Roger Morningstar, Brady’s father.

Brown, the confident lifelong fan across the way, isn’t worried, even after Thursday’s early struggles. He’s ready for a triumphant repeat of KU’s title from two years ago.

“I cry when KU loses,” he said. “When the season’s over, I need some time alone. I need closure.”

This time, he’s looking forward to wiping away tears of joy.

Comments

Hank Cross 7 years, 6 months ago

I've been watching KU since Brown's 1st year and this team has grown into something different. Even though the team that lost to AZ was probably the most talented, this squad has so many different weapons and has been in so many tight games this year, they have a lot of confidence. I like that Reed kept shooting until he started hitting. Roy's teams almost always folded in the tourney when things weren't going the way they went in the regular season. If this team plays with intensity and up to their capability, I don't see them losing.

BTW-with G'Town out, I don't want to hear any more crying about how this is the toughest bracket ever. We will likely have the easiest 2nd round game of all No. 1s and may even face the Ohio Bearcats in the Regional Final.

UmbertoConforti 7 years, 6 months ago

Senor oxcaljayhawk. Got a spare pair of those rosy glasses. I could use them. Per favore. Grazie. Umberto

FairgroveJayhawk 7 years, 6 months ago

UNI is a decent team. The only weakness I see they have is the 6'8" leprechaun with mutton chops. O'rear, meet the Morris'.

All kidding aside, 40 full minutes tomorrow Jayhawks.

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 6 months ago

Egelseder makes Aldrich a mute point. They've got a good wing in Faroukmanesh. Who I don't think that UNI has an answer for is the Morrises especially if Marcus plays like he did last night. I would also look for a complete GAME from Xavier on Saturday vs. just one good half. I don't think we'll get 4 threes from Reed again, but hopefully we get some more from Xavier and Tyshawn.

86finalfour 7 years, 6 months ago

Best thing to happen -- hawks will come away from this first round game like the losses to OSU and Tenn and play very tough defense from now on. This should give them the edge to push through the region.

I agree with a lot of fans here. I don't care about margin of victory. Roy's teams dazzled with blowouts but flamed out when the going got tough. Self's teams grind it out, especially this team.

Let's do this Hawks!

slowplay 7 years, 6 months ago

NI has deep bench, but they are defense rather than offense oriented. Look for a similar game except KU will run more of an inside-out game and look to the perimeter to get their shots and spread the NI "D". As mentioned earlier , Marcus will have another big game, X will have more of an impact, and look for Aldrich to play better against the taller but less athletic Eglseder.

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