Kansas had its problems with Holy Cross, but the Jayhawks might have much bigger difficulties if Kirk Hinrich's left ankle keeps him out of action for their date with Stanford.
Oregon rolled over Montana 81-62 and Wake Forest disposed of Pepperdine 83-74 setting up a great second round game between the Ducks and Demon Deacons.
The other side of the bracket got beat up a little bit as Terrell Taylor hit eight three-pointers and Creighton sent the Gators home in an 83-8 upset. However, after round two this should be the most intact Regional of them of all in the eyes of the experts.
In St. Louis:
No. 1 Kansas vs No. 8 Stanford – Andrew Gooden always comes to play for the Jayhawks, but don't underestimate the value of Kirk Hinrich to this KU team. Hinrich will be a point guard in the NBA, but he can play any of three positions for the Jayhawks and is very much a settling influence and a floor leader for this team. If he can't play because of an ankle sprain suffered in KU's first round win over Holy Cross, KU will struggle. I said struggle not lose. Curtis Borchardt could have big day for the Cardinal, and if Casey Jacobsen gets hot it'll be interesting before it over. But, in the end KU's team speed and athleticism will win out. Jayhawks by 10.
No. 2 Oregon vs No. 7 Wake Forest – Craig Dawson was an unlikely hero for the Demon Deacons as Wake downed Pepperdine in round one. Head coach SkipProsser will have the Deacons well prepared for the Ducks. But the Ducks are not an easy team to scout.
Oregon center Chris Christrofersen is a plodding giant and not much of an offensive force, but he takes up a lot of space in the paint and he is a very good passing big man. The Deacons will most likely keep Christofersen in check, but will they find an answer for the Duck's two Lukes, Ridnour and Jackson. I don't think so. Ducks win in a closer game than expected. Let's say the Ducks by three.
No. 4 Illinois vs No. 12 Creighton – Illinois struggled through some early season games but came on strong down the stretch and tied for the Big Ten Conference regular season title. Now the Illini seems to have found its stride just in time to make a run in this Tournament. The United Center is also a home away from home for the Illini. Illinois by 15.
No. 3 Mississippi State vs No. 6 Texas – The Southeast Conference has been a grossly overrated conference for along time. Florida has already made its exit from The Dance and the Bulldogs will have to play a perfect game to beat the battle tested Longhorns. Texas has a "homecourt" setting for this match up and comes out of Dallas with a ticket to Madison, Wis. for the Regional Finals. Longhorns by six.
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