|Kansas will presumably move on to face the winner of
the battle between UNLV and Illinois.
Is there any chance Kansas
could be the first No. 1 seed to lose a first-round NCAA Tournament game since the current system began in 1985?
The 32-2 Jayhawks meet 16th-seed Boston University Friday at 3:50 p.m. PT at BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., in the Southwest Regional.
Oddsmakers aren’t expecting a Boston miracle. The Jayhawks are 22 ½-point favorites, befitting their second-ranked status in both major polls. The ‘over/under’ is 136.
Nonetheless, it’s not inappropriate to mention some unpleasant Kansas history.
This is because the Jayhawks have a history of suffering huge upsets during the first round having lost to Bucknell as 14-point favorites in 2005 and to Bradley the following year as seven-point ‘chalk.’
None of the present Kansas players tasted those defeats, though, not even fifth-year senior Brady Morningstar.
Kansas is primed to make a deep run with the Morris twins – Marcus and Markieff – composing a formidable inside duo and a deep backcourt of Tyrel Reed, Tyshawn Taylor and Morningstar.
Marcus Morris averages 17.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, while Markieff Morris scores 13.2 points a game, shoots 60.1 percent from the floor and pulls down 8.2 rebounds.
The Morris twins are going to be very hard to handle for Boston University, which has an undersized frontcourt. Kansas was the fifth-highest scoring team in the nation at 82.4 points per game. The Jayhawks ranks first in field goal percentage making 51.4 percent of their shots.
The Terriers, who have never faced the Big 12 Conference champion Jayhawks, are 21-13. They won the America East Conference to earn an automatic bid to the tournament.
Boston University, coached by former Villanova assistant Patrick Chambers, is riding an 11-game winning streak. This is the first time in nine years the Terriers have made the tournament.
The Terriers feature their conference’s player of the year in 6-foot-5 swingman Jon Holland, a senior averaging 19 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. No doubt the Jayhawks will be paying close attention to Holland.
Boston University has won its last four games by margins of two points (in overtime), nine, six and two. The Terriers have benefited by shooting 116 foul shots during this span to their opponent’s 44. Even Duke doesn’t get such an outrageous free throw advantage.
The Terriers got past Stony Brook in their conference tournament championship game, 56-54, as a six-point favorite despite making just 31 percent of their shots from the field and having only two assists.
Holland helped the Terriers overcome a 15-point deficit by scoring 23 of his game-high 27 points in the second half. The Terriers are the only Boston-area school to make the field of 68.
The Terriers’ strength is a defense that ranks 16th yielding just 60.4 points per game and is ninth in field goal percentage limiting foes to 39 percent shooting from the floor.
Offensively, however, the Terriers rate 320th averaging 61 points per contest.
Even though their offense isn’t impressive, aside from Holland, the Terriers do have several trends going for them. They are 20-7-1 ATS in their last 28 games. They are 17-5-1 ATS during their past 23 non-conference matchups, including 11-2 ATS at neutral site games.
Kansas is 14-1 in its last 15 games. The Jayhawks defeated Texas, 85-73, in the Big 12 Conference title game as 4 ½-point favorites at neutral site Kansas City this past Saturday. It was the Jayhawks’ fifth tournament title in six years.
Prior to the win and cover against Texas, the Jayhawks were 0-4-1 ATS in their last five games.
The ‘over’ has cashed in 11 of Kansas’ last 15 games, though the ‘under’ paid off in 10 of the Jayhawks’ past 13 NCAA Tournament games.
The ‘over’ has cashed in eight of Boston University’s last 10 non-league matchups.