No. 2 seed Kansas will face No. 7 seed Wichita State here at the CenturyLink Center in downtown Omaha. It will be the first meeting between the two programs since 1993 — and just the 15th matchup all-time between the two Kansas schools.
It will also be the second all-time meeting between Kansas and Wichita State in the NCAA Tournament. Wichita State won the famed Battle of New Orleans in 1981, edging Kansas 66-65 in a regional semifinal. OK, yeah, you’ve probably heard about most of this.
But Sunday’s game will be rare in other ways. Consider this: In the history of the NCAA Tournament, teams from the state of Kansas have met head-to-head only three times. After Sunday, it will be four. Here’s a look at the previous NCAA Tournament matchups between teams from the Sunflower State:
1964: K-State defeats Wichita State 94-86 in a regional final in Wichita.
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How it went down: K-State was playing a Midwest Regional final on the Shockers’ home floor, but Willie Murrell, a 6-foot-6 senior, finished with 28 points as the Wildcats advanced to the Final Four.
Murrell, the Wildcats’ leading scorer, averaged 22.3 points per game while K-State claimed the conference title with a 20-5 record. The Wildcats eventually lost to John Wooden and UCLA in the Final Four in Kansas City.
1981: Wichita State defeats KU 66-65 in a regional semifinal in New Orleans.
How it went down: Both No. 7 seed Kansas and No. 6 Wichita State had earned two victories at Levitt Arena, advancing to New Orleans and a showdown in the Midwest Regional semifinal at the Superdome.
KU held a three-point with 56 seconds to play, and All-America guard Darnell Valentine stood at the free-throw line. He missed, and Wichita State’s Mike Jones hit a 25-foot jumper to cut the lead to one. Valentine missed a another layup before Wichita State rebounded and called timeout. Moments later, Jones rained in another 25-foot jumper, giving Wichita State the victory. The Shockers lost to No. 1 seed LSU in the regional final.
1988: Kansas defeats K-State 71-58 in a regional final in Pontiac, Mich.
How it went down: Kansas junior guard Scooter Barry finished with a career-high 15 points as the sixth-seeded Jayhawks vanquished Mitch Richmond and the fourth-seeded Wildcats at the Pontiac, Silverdome. One week earlier, K-State had handed KU a 69-54 loss in the semifinals of the Big Eight tournament in Kansas City. But Kansas State went ice-cold late, hitting just four of its last 22 shots. The Jayhawks went on to claim the NCAA championship.