The active coach with more victories in Kansas City than anybody else in college basketball is headed to the Sprint Center for opening-round games.
Kansas’ Bill Self?
North Carolina’s Roy Williams. When he coached the Jayhawks from 1988-2003, Williams had plenty of success in old Kemper Arena, going 42-12. He knows where to find the good barbecue joints. Self has accumulated a 27-5 record in five fewer seasons.
The teams are familiar with each other in NCAA play, with Kansas having won meetings in the 2008 Final Four and 2012 regional final. For it to happen this time, the Jayhawks would have to avoid becoming the first top seed to lose to a No. 16 in Western Kentucky, and the eighth-seeded Tar Heels would have to get past No. 9 Villanova.
The South is stocked with individual talent. Second-seeded Georgetown is led by Otto Porter Jr. “Otto-matic” is a 6-foot-8 wing who hits three-pointers at a 44 percent rate. The Hoyas shared the Big East title with Louisville and Marquette but stumbled a bit down the stretch, losing two of their last four.
Fourth-seeded Michigan has one of the nation’s top backcourts, led by Trey Burke, who was chosen Big Ten player of the year after leading the league in scoring and assists. He also entered the postseason with the nation’s top assist-turnover ratio (3.5 to 1). Burke will match up against Nate Wolters, a star point guard for 13th-seeded South Dakota State.
Seventh-seeded San Diego State is led by 6-5 wing Jamaal Franklin, who fills a stat sheet by averaging about 16 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.
Two of the game’s star freshmen are part of this regional: Shabazz Muhammad of sixth-seeded UCLA and the Jayhawks’ Ben McLemore.
The region also includes Oklahoma, and coach Lon Kruger takes his fifth program to an NCAA Tournament.