Madison Square Garden, New York City
9:30 p.m., ESPN2 (Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale)
Roy Williams was an assistant at North Carolina. Matt Doherty was an assistant at Kansas. Roy Williams neglected his supposed duty as Dean Smith's heir to the UNC throne. Matt Doherty took the job instead. Oh, and for good measure, one of UNC's most important recruits chose Kansas over Carolina last month.
And so, with this intriguing backdrop, the Tar Heels travel to the Big Apple to clash with one of the nation's top teams.
In this corner, Roy Williams' No. 2-ranked Kansas Jayhawks. In the other corner, Matt Doherty's young but talented North Carolina Tar Heels. The arena, Madison Square Garden.
"North Carolina is the one that is harder to play than anybody else because I have those feelings of my entire life I dreamed of playing there and I dreamed of coaching there. I did coach there for 10 years. I love that place. I don't think anybody loves that basketball program as much as I do. It is not just Matt Doherty. It's North Carolina. Tar Heel born. Tar Heel bred. Tar Heel dead. There is something to that. I made the decision to stay at Kansas. I am a Jayhawk and that isn't going to change." -- Kansas head coach Roy Williams.
Kansas returns three starters and seven letterwinners to a team which went 33-4 and advanced to the Final Four last season... The Jayhawks boast a pair of preseason All-America candidates in guard Kirk Hinrich and forward Nick Collison... Joining Hinrich and Collison in the starting lineup are sophomores Aaron Miles, Keith Langford and Wayne Simien... Miles started 36 games last season at point guard, while Langford and Simien were the Jayhawks' biggest weapons off the bench... KU is looking to offset the loss of 2001-02 Co-National Player of the Year Drew Gooden (the fourth overall pick in the NBA Draft to the Memphis Grizzlies) and four-year starter Jeff Boschee (the Big 12's all-time leading three-point shooter)... Depth will be the main concern for the Jayhawks this season, as the other returning letterwinners in addition to the starters are junior Bryant Nash (career 4.4 minutes per game) and sophomore Michael Lee (career 3.3 minutes per game)... KU will also look for help in the frontcourt off the bench from 6-9 junior college transfer Jeff Graves and 6-10 freshman Moulaye Niang.
"They've got such a talented team of experienced players," UNC head coach Matt Doherty said. "They've got two All-Americans in Hinrich and Collison, and they have Miles and Langford. They are a very good team. The thing I'm concerned about is guarding against two quality, strong post players. And they've got them. And they've got team speed. There's no weakness on their team."
The Jayhawks boast a high-octane offense, averaging 93.0 points per game after two contests... Last year KU led the nation with 90.9 points per game... In fact, last year the 'Hawks led the country in scoring, field goal percentage and assists per game... Kansas has averaged 82.7 points per game in the Roy Williams era, including eclipsing the 90 points per game mark in two seasons (2002 and 1990)... The Jayhawks take high percentage shots, shooting 54 percent this season and 49 percent in the Williams era... KU should once again have a good shooting team, as the five starters combine to shoot 52.4 percent from the field, 41.0 percent from beyond the arc and 70.9 percent from the line for their careers... The Jayhawks also perennially share the ball well, averaging 18.7 assists per game under Williams.
KU's defense has a reputation for being stingy, as Jayhawk opponents haven't shot 50 percent or better for an entire season since 1988, and five of Roy Williams' teams have held foes under 40 percent shooting for the season... Kansas has held 24 straight foes under 50 percent shooting, and two seasons ago (2000-01), the Jayhawks led the nation in field goal percentage defense at 37.8 percent... KU is known traditionally for its man-to-man defense, but Williams has said the Jayhawks may play their most zone ever this year... The 'Hawks return the Big 12 blocks leader from a year ago, as Nick Collison paced the league with 2.2 swats per game, and he has 169 career rejections... In 105 years of Kansas basketball (2,518 games), an opposing team has scored 100 or more points against the Jayhawks just nine times.
QUOTES: Matt Doherty on Kansas
QUOTES: Roy Williams on UNC
Background Location: Lawrence, Kansas Enrollment: 26,894 Conference: Big 12 Nickname: Jayhawks Colors: Crimson and Blue Head Coach: Roy Williams Record at KU: 388-93 Last year Record: 33-4 Conference record: 16-0, 5th 1st Postseason: Lost in NCAA Final Four Key personnel losses: Drew Gooden (6-10 PF) – 19.8 ppg, 11.4 rpg Jeff Boschee (6-1 G) – 13.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg Probable Starting Lineup: Aaron Miles (6-1, G, So.) – 4.0 ppg, 6.0 apg Kirk Hinrich (6-3, G, Sr.) – 18.0 ppg, 3.0 apg Keith Langford (6-4, G, So.) – 19.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg Nick Collison (6-9, F, Sr.) – 22.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg Wayne Simien (6-9, F, So.) – 15.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg Key Reserves: Bryant Nash (6-6, F, Jr.) – 5.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg Michael Lee (6-3, G, So.) – 3.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg Jeff Graves (6-9, F, Jr.) – 1.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg Jeff Hawkins (5-11, G, Fr.) – 1.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg Moulaye Niang (6-10, F, Fr.) – 1.5 ppg, 1.0 rpgPhoto Gallery
Aaron Miles .......... Kirk Hinrich
Keith Langford .......... Nick Collison
Wayne Simien .......... Roy Williams
(Photos by Allsport. Kansas Sports Info contributed to this report.)