|Kansas gets No. 1 seed, similar road as 1988 NCAA title|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 16 March 2008 14:46|
The fifth-ranked Jayhawks had just played a superb first half against No. 6 Texas in the Big 12 tournament championship game, one Self called the best played in Kansas City since the Jayhawks won the 1988 NCAA title.
A little over an hour later, Kansas was selected as the No. 1 seed in Midwest region, which has sites in Nebraska and Michigan - just like in 1988. And one more eery similarity: the Jayhawks' bracket includes Vanderbilt, which Kansas beat in the regional semifinals 20 years ago.
``Different venues, but it went through Nebraska and then Detroit,'' Self said. ``We actually told our team about that today.''
When Kansas won its last NCAA title, it played the first two rounds in Lincoln, Neb., then went on to Pontiac, Mich., for the regional. The final was played in Kansas City, where Danny Manning, now a KU assistant coach, led Kansas to its second NCAA championship.
This year's road starts in Omaha, Neb., then the regional will be played in Detroit. Get past those four rounds and the Jayhawks will head to San Antonio for the Final Four.
The 1988 team had a relatively easy bracket to start with, facing Xavier and Murray State before getting Vanderbilt in the region semifinals. The Jayhawks then beat Kansas State in the region finals, Duke by seven in the Final Four, and held off top-ranked Oklahoma 83-79 in the championship game.
This year could be a little tougher.
After facing Big Sky champion Portland State in the opening round, Kansas could potentially go against UNLV, then possibly Clemson in the region semifinals. Also in the Jayhawks' bracket is Georgetown, Wisconsin - a team that wouldn't have to go far to play in Detroit - Gonzaga and rival Kansas State, which beat Kansas earlier this year.
``It's not going to be easy,'' Kansas center Sasha Kaun said. ``Being No. 1 doesn't make it easier. It probably makes it tougher because everyone is going to knock down No. 1 and play harder against us. It's going to be tough.''
Of course, Kansas has to get by Portland State first.
The Jayhawks certainly have tradition on their side.
They've been to the NCAA tournament 37 times, including the last 19, and have reached the Final Four 12 times, winning titles in 1988 and 1952. Kansas is 8-0 against members of the Big Sky Conference and is 17-7 the eight times it has been a No. 1 seed, which includes last season when the Jayhawks reached the NCAA quarterfinals.
Kansas also is coming off one of the best seasons in school history.
The Jayhawks finished 31-3, winning 30 games in consecutive seasons for the third time in school history. Kansas has won eight straight games, including Sunday's hard-fought, 84-74 victory over Texas for their third-straight and sixth overall Big 12 tournament championship.
Before beating Northern Arizona 67-51 on Wednesday, Portland State (23-9) had never reached the title game of the Big Sky tournament in its 12 years in the conference and is headed to the NCAA tournament for the first time.
But the Vikings did set a school record for wins and had a few extra days to prepare for the NCAA tournament - not that it's going to affect what Kansas does.
``We're not going to change who we are,'' Self said. ``They are going to have a little more time if they want to throw in something new, but we won't. That's not who we are.''