Destination Kansas City

Maybe it was karma, some small bit of cosmic restitution for last season's tournament distractions. Maybe it was the collective will and silent pleas of the KU faithful. Maybe it was all that rubbing on Omar Wilkes head. Regardless, the NCAA Selection genie seems to have granted three wishes to the Jayhawks and Kansas fans.

Please let Kansas be a 4 seed.

Please let Kansas play at Kemper, and potentially later in St. Louis.

Please let Kansas avoid an unquestionably, insanely unfair, really hard bracket.

Okay, some people might argue on that third one. Of course it is a tough bracket – they are all tough brackets. Coach Bill Self even suggested a case could be made the St. Louis region was the most difficult of the four. But few can muster more than a half hearted argument that Kansas is not sitting pretty as of Monday morning.

"It wasn't a surprise. We knew that if we had beaten Texas we would of had a better chance of getting it (a four-seed)," said Aaron Miles.

Miles may have been coolly expectant, but not everyone was as sure – even among the players.

"I actually was surprised about playing in Kansas City, especially after the loss (to Texas)," said Wayne Simien. "I guess the NCAA committee felt differently about the loss (Saturday), and we're staying close to home."

Michael Lee described himself as "kind of shocked."

"I was hoping to play in Kansas City, but I honestly thought we would be a fifth-seed playing in Wisconsin," said Lee.

As for the Keith Langford, he can't be bothered too much with seeding and locations.

"I didn't care what seed we were," said Langford. "A lot of teams' names didn't pop up on that screen. As far as our seed goes -- I just wanted to be in the tournament."

Kansas is definitely in the tournament and opens on Friday, March 19, against Illinois-Chicago at approximately 8:55 p.m. If they advance, the Jayhawks would play the winner of the Providence-Pacific game at 3:50 on Sunday.

"We haven't won anything until we actually play a game. Being able to play in Kansas City will be good for us," said Lee.

That is something players and fans agree on. Ticket sales are skyrocketing, hotel rooms are becoming harder to find, and some fans are planning for sick days as they point and click their way through travel plans and/or bracket breakdowns from a dozen or so experts.

"It feels good because we are on a roll and our fans get to come down and support us," said Miles. "Right now everybody feels good, not only because we are playing in Kansas City, but because it is tournament time and it is an exciting time."

"We were pretty excited about it -- knowing we'll be close to home," agreed Simien." I think there may be a little more pressure playing there because it's almost considered a home court for us, but I think we'll take care of it."

Taking care of it the focus in March, and every college player from all 65 teams is acutely aware of this. This is the one and done, the Big Dance, the NCAA tournament.

"I know we are in Kansas City and it is time to go out and play ball," said JR Giddens. "It is do-or-die time now."

Forget the good luck charms and the whispered prayers. No genie will help Kansas now. Instead the coaches and the players will rely on their skills, their motivation, and each other as they begin another run through the NCAA tournament.


Phog.net Top Stories