Few teams have had easier travel in the NCAA Tournament than Kansas.
The postseason spots for the Jayhawks for the past four years: Sprint Center, Tulsa, Okla., Louisville, Ky., Omaha, Neb., and St. Louis.
Kansas earned the proximity with its regular-season success, and favorable NCAA Tournament seeds mean geographical preference.
But could this be the year Kansas gets shipped to a coast, even as a No. 1 seed?
Most NCAA bracket projections peg the Jayhawks as the top seed in the West Region, playing first- and second-round games in at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita. That destination seems a lock.
If Kansas makes it to the second weekend, however, the site will depend on its regional assignment. The Midwest finals are in Omaha, the West in Los Angeles.
With Villanova and Virginia all but assured to be the top seeds in the East and South regions, the West and Midwest remain.
Coaches and players will tell you they don’t care where they play, making the topic more relevant for fans, and KU faithful in this area have become accustomed to motoring to the NCAA stops.
Based on bracket projections, Kansas is currently blocked from the No. 1 seed in the Midwest by Xavier. If the Musketeers are seeded ahead of the Jayhawks, the closest regional site to their Cincinnati campus is Omaha. That would leave the West for Kansas.
But the profiles of Xavier and Kansas show a slim margin of difference. Heading into the regular-season finale, the Musketeers, 26-4 overall, 14-3 in the Big East, are the No. 3 RPI team with a 6-4 record against the group of schools that will be closely scrutinized by the selection committee.
The Jayhawks, 24-6 overall, 13-4 in the Big 12, are No. 4 in the RPI with an 11-3 record against the top teams on their schedule.
If it wins at DePaul on Saturday, Xavier will be the Big East champ. The Musketeers were swept by Villanova during the regular season but stand a game ahead of the Wildcats.
Kansas, looking to avoid a season sweep at Oklahoma State on Saturday, has won the Big 12.
Plenty can happen before the bracket announcement on March 11. KU or Xavier could falter or some team currently projected as a No. 2 seed could jump to a No. 1.
But with such similar resumes between Kansas and Xavier, league tournament success could become the difference with a shorter trip for the second weekend the reward for a conference crown.
Missouri and Kansas State remain on the right side of the bubble but margins for error are reduced with every loss.
Mizzou finishes the regular season at home against Arkansas on Saturday and all eyes, including the selection committee’s will be on Michael Porter Jr. Not only to see if he plays but how he impacts the Tigers.
The Wildcats followed a three-game winning streak with consecutive losses that find them back in the group of candidates who might have to begin the tournament in Dayton, Ohio, the same opening-round path taken by Kansas State last year.
K-State, which plays host to Baylor on Saturday, has been hurt by the inability to beat the teams above it in the Big 12. The Wildcats are 0-6 against Kansas, West Virginia and Texas Tech, and 9-2 against everyone else.
NCAA Tournament projections (entering Saturday's games)
- No. 1 seeds: Villanova, Virginia, Kansas, Xavier
- No. 2: Duke, Michigan State, Purdue, Cincinnati
- No. 3: North Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee, Auburn
- No. 4: Ohio State, Wichita State, Texas Tech, Clemson
- No. 5: Gonzaga, Kentucky, Rhode Island, Arizona
- No. 6: Houston, Arkansas, Michigan, Nevada
- No. 7: TCU, Florida, Miami (Fla.), Creighton
- No. 8: Seton Hall, St, Mary’s Arizona State, Virginia Tech
- No. 9: Missouri, Texas A&M, North Carolina State, Oklahoma
- No. 10: Middle Tennessee State, Butler, Florida State, St. Bonaventure
- No. 11: Kansas State, Washington, Louisville, Southern California, UCLA
- No. 12: New Mexico State, Loyola Chicago, Providence, Alabama, South Dakota State
- No. 13: Rider, Vermont, Buffalo, Louisiana
- No. 14: Bucknell, UNC Greensboro, Charleston, Murray State
- No. 15: UNC Ashville, Northern Kentucky, UC Davis, Montana
- No. 16: Bethune-Cookman, Prairie View A&M, Florida Gulf Coast, Nicholls State, Penn, Wagner
- Last four in: Alabama, Providence, Southern California, Louisville
- First four out: Texas, Syracuse, Utah, Baylor