Previewing Kansas

The ties between North Carolina and Kansas run deep, with storylines that have been endlessly repeated throughout the week. But the only important storyline is that Saturday's Final Four matchup pits two terrific basketball teams against each other. Tip-off is estimated for 8:47 p.m. at the Alamodome and will be televised by CBS.

North Carolina (36-2) vs. Kansas (35-3)
San Antonio, Texas - The Alamodome
Approx. 8:47 p.m., CBS (Jim Nantz and Billy Packer)

Quotables

"Fans will make a big deal out of it. And I said this [earlier this week], when people are upset that you leave -- and I've gone through this myself and of course he went through it at a very high level -- it's a bag-handed compliment because they didn't want you to. I'm sure he knows that and understands that and that's the nature of the business. But, you know, at the core of all Kansas fans -- and I'm not in touch with everybody, but at the core I would think everybody's very proud of the time he spent here because he gave this place 15 years of excellence." – Kansas head coach Bill Self on the Roy Williams/Kansas storyline

"I think, number one, Bill's just got a great philosophy and a system of everybody being willing to help everybody. Their big guys. They can make switches and get out on the floor. It's really a defense that can guard you and put pressure on you. They can also block some shots. They can be physical with you. To me it's just a marvelous defense. I think it does start with the pressure that the guards can put on you and their ability to just take your basketball away from you and go the other direction." – Williams on Kansas' defense

PREGAME NOTES
Season to Date: Kansas enters Saturday night's NCAA national semifinal contest with a 35-3 record. The Jayhawks have won 11 straight games, a streak matched only by the 20-0 mark that Bill Self's squad posted to start the season. Kansas lost three of seven contests during a 24-day stretch in the middle of its Big 12 conference slate – Kansas State (84-75), Texas (72-69) and Oklahoma State (61-60).

NCAA Tournament Results: After cruising through the first three rounds of March Madness with double-digit victories over Portland State (85-61), UNLV (75-56) and Villanova (72-57), the Jayhawks had to fight and claw its way past the Davidson Wildcats (59-57) for the head coach's first-ever Final Four berth. The small school from North Carolina controlled the tempo in a game that had nine ties and seven lead changes. Guard Mario Chalmers led Kansas with 15 points, while forward Sasha Kaun (13) and wing Brandon Rush (12) also hit the double-digit mark.

Balanced Effort, Part I: The difficulty in slowing down Kansas' offensive attack is that, similar to North Carolina, there are a multitude of weapons to put points on the scoreboard. Rush – the Jayhawks leading scorer at 13.1 points per game – ranked 16th in the Big 12's scoring leaders, indicating an offense that excels in finding the open man and trusting their teammates. Rush, Chalmers (12.7 ppg), forward Darrell Arthur (12.7 ppg), forward Darnell Jackson (11.2 ppg) all provide adequate threats for Self's offensive strategy. The Jayhawks rank third nationally in field goal percentage (50.7) and assists (18.2), while holding down the nation's No. 6 spot with their assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4).

Defense Wins Championships: The Jayhawks have held 37 of their 38 opponents to less than 50 percent shooting (University of Louisiana-Monroe, 51.0 percent in the season opener). The Big 12 Tournament Champions rank in the top-25 nationally in a bevy of defensive statistics – scoring defense (61.2), defensive field goal percentage (37.9), steals (8.82) and blocked shots (5.92). It doesn't hurt that Kansas possesses solid plus-margins in both rebounding (7.7) and turnovers (2.61).

Balanced Effort, Part II: Through 38 games, Kansas has had seven different leading scorers, seven different players lead the team in rebounding, five different in assists, eight different in steals and seven different in blocked shots (these includes ties).

You May Not Have Known… That senior guard Jeremy Case is the only current Jayhawk who was recruited to Kansas by Roy Williams. When the McAlester, Okla. product finally arrived on campus in Lawrence, Williams was already running the North Carolina program in Chapel Hill.

Last Meeting: The last meeting between North Carolina and Kansas occurred in Roy Williams' final season in Lawrence during the 2002-03 season. The Tar Heels knocked off the second-ranked Jayhawks, 67-56, in the Preseason NIT semifinal in Madison Square Garden on Nov. 27, 2002. North Carolina freshman Rashad McCants connected on 10 of his 15 field goal attempts to post a game-high 25 points, while sophomore Jawad Williams added 15 points.

Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series with Kansas, 6-2, but the two programs have faced each other just once in the last 15 seasons. All three of their meetings in the NCAA Tournament have occurred in the Final Four. The Tar Heels won two of those contests (the 1957 NCAA championship game and the 1993 national semifinals), while Kansas emerged victorious in the 1991 national semifinals. UNC went on to win the 1993 NCAA title after defeating the Jayhawks in the Final Four.

Projected Starters:
 3 Russell Robinson (6-1, 205, Sr.) – 7.4 ppg, 4.1 apg
15 Mario Chalmers (6-1, 190, Jr.) – 12.7 ppg, 4.4 apg
25 Brandon Rush (6-6, 210, Jr.) - 13.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg
00 Darrell Arthur (6-9, 225, So.) - 12.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg
32 Darnell Jackson (6-8, 250, Sr.) – 11.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg

Key Reserves:
 4 Sherron Collins (5-11, 205, So.) – 9.2 ppg, 3.0 apg
24 Sasha Kaun (6-11, 250, Sr.) – 7.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg
45 Cole Aldrich (6-11, 240, Fr.) – 2.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg

KU Info
Schedule
Stats
Roster & Bios

Photo Gallery


Brandon Rush ... Mario Chalmers


Darrell Arthur ... Russell Robinson


Darnell Jackson ... Sherron Collins


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