There's a lot of fear and trembling in Jayhawk-land going into the tourney this year. Everyone seems to agree that the Midwest is the toughest bracket, and that the 'Hawks are ripe for an upset.
Keegan says we have no chance (although he's doing it to try to reverse-jinx our boys). Fox Sports puts N. Dakota St. on their list of Cinderellas and Kansas on their list of likely early exits. The Wall Street Journal also envisions a possible first-round upset. Joe Lunardi has us losing to West Virginia. CBS Sportsline's Doyel has us losing to Dayton. One notable exception is the KC Star's Upon Further Review blog, which puts us in the Final Four -- but I can't tell if they're being facetious.
The good thing about all of this is that the fashionable upset picks often don't materialize -- and it obviously provides good bulletin board material for our players. But I'm not going to ignore the evidence; NDSU is exactly the type of team best suited to beat us: deadly outside shooting, packed with 5th-year seniors who have won games against major conference competition, and headed by a major game-breaker on the offensive end, Ben Woodside, who seems an excellent candidate to pull another Voskuil (Texas Tech) on us. Plus once again the committee has set us up for a road game -- Minneapolis is just a few hours away from NDSU's campus.
The KC Star's statistical breakdown gives NDSU the advantage over KU in 10 of 15 categories. The one good thing here, though, is that even with our much stronger strength of schedule, we're a lot better than they are in one very important category -- FG percentage defense. Soooo... if we can just keep the unforced turnovers to a minimum and get out on their shooters, we should be OK. I think. (shudder)