Monday, March 17, 2014

Self pleased with KU’s No. 2 seed despite tough NCAA regional draw

Kansas head coach Bill Self smiles as he walks past a television camera following the NCAA tournament selection show, Sunday, March 16, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas, a No. 2 seed in the South Regional, will face No. 15 seed Eastern Kentucky on Friday in St. Louis.

Kansas head coach Bill Self smiles as he walks past a television camera following the NCAA tournament selection show, Sunday, March 16, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas, a No. 2 seed in the South Regional, will face No. 15 seed Eastern Kentucky on Friday in St. Louis.


Wayne Selden and Jamari Traylor preview the NCAA tournament

Kansas basketball players Wayne Selden and Jamari Traylor met the media on Selection Sunday to talk about the NCAA tournament.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self reacts to NCAA Tournament bracket

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self reacts to the NCAA Tournament bracket on Sunday evening, addressing KU's first opponent, Eastern Kentucky, as well as a potential rematch with New Mexico, and the tough ticket in St. Louis, Mo., where Kansas will play Friday at the same site as Wichita State, Kentucky ...

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Reader poll

Which team from the South bracket should No. 2 seed Kansas be most worried about in its quest to reach the Final Four?

  • No. 1 Florida 46% 1258 votes
  • No. 3 Syracuse 15% 425 votes
  • No. 4 UCLA 0% 24 votes
  • No. 5 VCU 0% 23 votes
  • No. 6 Ohio State 0% 17 votes
  • No. 7 New Mexico 18% 505 votes
  • No. 8 Colorado 0% 6 votes
  • No. 9 Pittsburgh 0% 11 votes
  • No. 10 Stanford 0% 15 votes
  • No. 11 Dayton 0% 1 vote
  • No. 12 Stephen F. Austin 0% 9 votes
  • No. 13 Tulsa 0% 9 votes
  • No. 14 Western Michigan 0% 7 votes
  • No. 15 Eastern Kentucky 14% 402 votes

2712 total votes.

Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self can make a case for the NCAA Tournament’s South Regional being the toughest of all four in the upcoming Big Dance.

“Not to get ahead of ourselves at all,” Self said after it was revealed his No. 2-seeded Jayhawks would meet No. 15 seed Eastern Kentucky in a South Regional opener at 3:10 p.m. Friday in St. Louis, “but in our regional, you’ve got the best team in the country (No. 1 seed Florida).

“You’ve got a team that four weeks ago was thought to be the best team in the country (No. 3 seed Syracuse). You’ve got a team in (No. 4 seed) UCLA that’s one of the hottest teams in the country. You could make a case that if everybody in our regional plays to their ceiling, our regional could be as good as anybody’s. But you just want to win two games this weekend. That’s the focus.”

If KU (24-9) defeats Eastern Kentucky (24-9) of the Ohio Valley Conference, it would meet either No. 7 New Mexico or No. 10 Stanford at a yet-to-be-determined time Sunday. KU upended New Mexico, 80-63, on Dec. 14 in Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. Two victories would mean a Sweet 16 game against Ohio State, Dayton, Syracuse or Western Michigan on Thursday, March 27, in Memphis, Tenn.

Self thought New Mexico (27-6) would land better than a 7 seed.

“They beat San Diego State in their tournament on a neutral floor, and San Diego State is a No. 4 seed, and we saw how good San Diego State was,” Self said of an S.D. State team that defeated KU, 61-57, on Jan. 5, in Allen Fieldhouse.

“We played well against them (New Mexico) and made shots in Sprint Center, and their guard, (Hugh) Greenwood, was playing with a broken hand then, and their big kid (Alex Kirk) got two quick fouls in the first three minutes, which kind of changed things. We were fortunate.

“I hope we have an opportunity to advance because whoever we play, Stanford (21-12) or New Mexico, would be obviously a very tough opponent. But our focus just needs to be on Eastern Kentucky and defending the three-point line.”

Eastern Kentucky has made 303 of 776 threes (39 percent) this season. The Colonels’ opponents have made 204 of 570 for 35.8 percent.

“They’re going to play four starters that all shoot threes. They’re a lot like Iowa State in that regard,” Self said. “They stretch it.”

Self on Sunday was not surprised the Jayhawks landed a 2 seed.

“I thought we were really close to being a 1 seed, too, because of the way things played out and our RPI (3) and our BPI (5). We had 12 wins against the top 50, where some of the other teams they were considering had five or six,” Self said.

“I think that Virginia obviously deserved it (1 seed) because they won today (over Duke in ACC final), but if things had happened a little bit differently today, maybe we’d have been in consideration. I’m really happy that we’re on the No. 2 line, because I thought there was a chance we could move to a No. 3.”

Regarding playing in St. Louis, Self said it’s going to be a wild weekend with Wichita State and Kansas State also opening the NCAAs in Scottrade Center.

“That will be one of the hottest tickets ever for the first two rounds because K-State, Kentucky, Wichita State and us ... I mean, it will be hard to get tickets,” Self said. “Our fans need to be creative in figuring out a way.

“Hopefully our league will definitely pull for each other, and our state will pull for each other, but it’ll be interesting because you’ve got Wichita State, who will travel, K-State, who will travel. We’ll travel great, and then you’ve got the Big Blue Nation (Kentucky) that travels as well or better than anybody.”

SMU snubbed: Former KU coach Larry Brown’s SMU team was denied despite its 23-9 record and No. 25 ranking in the AP poll.

“I feel bad for him because I know what a great season they had, how well they’ve done and how they’ve revived that program. Certainly, it’s very disappointing,” Self said.

“I can’t believe it. I talked to coach this morning, and he was confident. He wasn’t cocky by any stretch, but he was confident they’d get in, and we talked about first-round matchups.”

In fact, Brown told Self the committee would probably match Brown against his alma mater, North Carolina. The final game revealed on CBS’ Selection Sunday show was the UNC game. The opponent that popped up on the screen was Providence, not SMU, meaning the Mustangs were out.

“I forgot Providence got the automatic bid, so when it all played out going into the last deal (slot on CBS bracket), I said (North) Carolina is a No. 6, SMU is a No. 11 because that’s what coach told me this morning. And I thought that, and then of course Providence got the automatic bid, so they were out.”

Tulsa is 13 seed: Former KU great Danny Manning’s Tulsa team received a 13 seed and will meet 4 seed UCLA in a second-round game Friday in San Diego.

“I’m very happy for Danny because he has the automatic bid (in Conference USA), and that was cool. Tulsa and UCLA have an unbelievable first-round history going back to Tubby (Smith) at Tulsa, so it should be exciting,” Self said.

Tubby Smith’s Golden Hurricane beat UCLA in the first round in 1994.

Self on the status of injured center Joel Embiid: “It’s the same. He feels better. All the medical staff has been communicating, and (they say) the same thing. For me to be optimistic about this weekend would not be an accurate statement, although I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, but I don’t feel optimistic about it. But I do, along with the medical staff and based on how he’s rehabbing, I do feel optimistic about next week.”

 Asked if he’d rule out Embiid for this weekend, Self said: “I could rule him out if he’s not able to practice, let’s say, by Wednesday or something like that. There’s no reason for me to do that now because that’s not the case. It’s all symptom-related and how he responds. He’s responding very favorably right now, so we’ll just wait and see.”

Eyes on the competition: The Jayhawks watched the Selection Sunday show on TV in Allen Fieldhouse.

“I think the bracket is loaded on our side. We’ve got a lot of good teams, a lot of great competition,” sophomore Jamari Traylor said. “It’ll be a challenge to go out there and win games. It’s definitely loaded; 1, 2, 3, 4, every seed is a power team. We will have to be ready to play.”

This, that: KU will hold a practice that is open to the public from 2:15 to 2:55 p.m. Thursday at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. ... KU assistant coach Kurtis Townsend was an assistant at Eastern Kentucky in 1997-98. “I had a great time there. They were basketball-crazy,” Townsend said. “We had a lot of fun in my one year there.” He left EKU to become an assistant at Michigan the following season. ... KU has received its 25th straight NCAA bid, longest streak in the country. ... KU’s first-round game will be on TBS. ... KU and EKU have played once previously. KU won, 79-65, on Dec. 5, 1970, in Allen.


Martin Rosenblum 4 years, 2 months ago

Win two games in STL and Tarik gets to go back home to Memphis tto play bext week. Should be a real motivation for him.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 2 months ago

On ESPN last night I saw a graphic that said that KU's 25 straight NCAA appearances is the 2nd most All-Time consecutive appearances.

They didn't say who was 1st, so I looked it up. I have included the other closest active streaks and where they currently stand all-time.

1.) 27 Appearances (UNC 1975-2001)

2.) 25 Appearances (KU Active, Arizona 1985-2009)

4.) 18, Duke, Active

6.) 17, Mich. State, Active

8.) 16, Gonzaga, Wisconsin, Active

Titus Canby 4 years, 2 months ago

Thanks Jonathan. Great research. It would be nice to get to 28 and break the record. Nicer if we can get a championship before then.

Tony Bandle 4 years, 2 months ago

If it wasn't for that ridiculous ruling against Larry Brown for the 88/89 season, the streak would be at an almost unreachable 31 seasons and still counting!!! As long as Bill Self is the coach, the streak will continue.

Suzi Marshall 4 years, 2 months ago

Commencing last night and through this morning, I've run several brackets with various sites. Although there were several iterations, the conclusions were all unanimous with … Kansas winning the National Championship.

One carefully calculated scenario resulted in an All Big 12 final 4 with Kansas, OSU, Baylor and UT with the Hawks taking down OSU in the finals.

Some great opening games, probably none better the UK vs KSU. Although I’ll be cheering for KSU, no plans to wear anything purple, but will wear a combination of blue and red to show some allegiance.

I've been fired up to play Syracuse and UF all season long and figured to win the NC, we'd have to beat both. They might as well be in the same region.

Ian Emerson 4 years, 2 months ago

Wins against Syracuse and Florida will really show how far we have come as a team. Cant wait.

Mike Riches 4 years, 2 months ago

I love Bill Self comparing EKU to Iowa State...what a great way to get his team to take this first game seriously! You can't sleep on a good three-point shooting team, that's the number one ingredient in the recipe for an upset. If our guys come out ready to play aggressively, and take this game as seriously as any other in this tourney, we'll win by a good margin. But with three 15-2 upsets in the last two years, there's no reason to talk too much about New Mexico...yet.

Dale Rogers 4 years, 2 months ago

Ranked 25th in the polls and 23 wins and SMU gets snubbed. That's just not right.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 2 months ago

Non-conference SOS was in the 300's and absolutely killed their RPI.

Tony Bandle 4 years, 2 months ago

Same rules allowed us to stay at's all about the Nov./ Dec. TV ratings for great match-ups. TV says jump and the NCAA says how high, how far and in what direction?? Bill picked a good season to pour on the SOS!!

Scott MacWilliams 4 years, 2 months ago

I'm with you Dale, and many others, in being shocked in seeing SMU tossed. How can a good team w/hall of fame coach lose a few games late and be dropped so hard? There were certainly a lot of others in the same place who are dancing...

As to the brackets, I like that we have 'Nova, Cuse and Fla on our side of the FF bracket. Wins over FL and Nova to get to the NC game? Sounds a bit like 1988 to me!!

Rock Chalk ! ! !

Mark Lindrud 4 years, 2 months ago

SMU the first ranked team not to get into the tourney is mind boggling to me. Shock is the word, besides the fact that WIchita State is in the toughest bracket. I say if they get to the final four just give them the title because they earned it lol.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 2 months ago

Utah St. missed the tourney a few years ago when they were ranked and only had 3 losses on the season.

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