WICHITA, Kan. — The chance Kansas would seize the Big 12 Tournament title was diminished when heart Udoka Azubuike sprained an MCL and was dominated out for the occasion.
But now that the bracket for the NCAA Tournament is out and the Jayhawks (27-7) are a No. 1 seed after claiming regular-season and convention match titles, their outlook appears just a little brighter, though Azubuike stays questionable coming into a first-round matchup Thursday towards Ivy League champion Penn (24-Eight) at Intrust Bank Arena.
The sudden emergence of Silvio De Sousa throughout a three-game stretch within the Big 12 tourney supplied a stunning raise. The 6-foot-9 freshman performed sparingly after enrolling on the semester break, however supplied strong frontline help and posted his first double-double (16 factors, 10 rebounds) within the Jayhawks’ championship win over West Virginia.
“I assumed Silvio performed properly sufficient that we must always believe utilizing Silvio in stress conditions,” Kansas coach Bill Self stated.
That ought to ease no matter issues Kansas might need about Azubuike logging prolonged minutes if he is ready to return.
The Jayhawks would gladly welcome the 7-foot sophomore’s standard contribution of 13.7 factors, which incorporates the nation’s most correct contact (77.four p.c). Azubuike additionally leads Kansas with a 7.1 common on the boards and his put up presence is one thing the Jayhawks lacked alternating De Sousa and sophomore ahead Mitch Lightfoot beneath throughout their Big 12 tourney run.
“We’re hopeful that (Azubuike) can play some on Thursday,” stated Self, “and if we’re lucky sufficient to advance, we’re extra assured that he could possibly be used on Saturday.”
Kansas prolonged its document streak of consecutive NCAA appearances to 29 by acquiring its third straight No. 1 seed and the eighth underneath Self, who’s in his 15th season guiding the Jayhawks. Kansas fell within the Elite Eight every of the final two seasons, to Villanova and Oregon.
Senior level guard Devonte’ Graham is starting to stockpile All-America honors after being named Player of the Year within the Big 12. He averaged 14.Three factors and 10.zero assists within the Big 12 tourney, together with a career-record 13 assists within the championship sport. Sophomore guard Malik Newman was named the tourney’s most excellent participant after averaging 24.zero factors on 62.5 p.c capturing.
“This previous weekend helped out lots with lots of confidence,” Graham stated. “Doke being harm helped out our large guys’ confidence lots.”
Penn claimed its first NCAA berth in 11 years behind two sophomores, guard Ryan Betley and ahead A.J. Brodeur. Betley averages a team-best 14.four factors, whereas Brodeur is the Quakers‘ high rebounder (7.zero) whereas averaging 13.zero factors on 54 p.c capturing.
Beating a high seed can be a extra colossal stunner because it has by no means been achieved by a No. 16 seed because the 1985 enlargement of the NCAA tourney subject.
“To me, objectively considering, I don’t assume like it is a 16-1 sport,” Penn coach Steve Donahue stated. “Now that doesn’t imply Kansas isn’t terrific and that we don’t have our work reduce out for us, however I really feel strongly we are going to carry out properly.”
Penn’s greatest hope is its protection alongside the arc. The Quakers rank second nationally guarding the Three-pointer, permitting a .292 proportion. Kansas shoots a bunch of treys with its four-guard lineup, rating 20th nationally with 10 makes on common.