3:10 p.m. Friday at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis
• TV/RADI O:
TBS; KCSP (610 AM)
• ABOUT KANSAS (24-9) :
For Kansas, the road to another Final Four begins against Eastern Kentucky in St. Louis. The Jayhawks won’t have the services of freshman center Joel Embiid until next week — at the earliest — so they will have to lean on freshman wing Andrew Wiggins and sophomore forward Perry Ellis while Embiid’s back heals. Wiggins is averaging 25.5 points per game in his last five, while Ellis is coming off a 30-point effort in a loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 semifinals. The Jayhawks will also need to rebound on defense after allowing more than 90 points in two of their last three games. Kansas is just 10-8 in games away from Allen Fieldhouse this season (5-6 in true road games and 6-2 on neutral floors). The Jayhawks are also 7-1 in NCAA Tournament games in St. Louis, the only loss coming to Georgia Tech in the 2004 Elite Eight.
• ABOUT EASTERN KENTUCKY (24-9):
The Colonels, who punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Ohio Valley Tournament, are led by senior guard Glenn Cosey, who averages 18.8 points and leads the team with 110 three-pointers. The Colonels will play small and try to force turnovers against a bigger Kansas team. Junior Corey Walden was the Ohio Valley defensive player of the year, while junior forward Eric Stutz leads the team with 4.7 rebounds per game. Eastern Kentucky coach Jeff Neubauer believes they have the recipe to match up with Kansas. “We have to shoot the ball well,” Neubauer said. “You have to take care of the basketball; all right, that’s one thing we do well also — one of the ten best teams in the country at valuing the ball.”
• BOTTOM LINE:
After playing the nation’s toughest schedule, the Jayhawks finished 12-8 against NCAA Tournament teams during the season. If they take care of the ball, Kansas should breeze.