Kansas Men's Basketball to Play Bradley in First Round of NCAA Tournament on Friday
March 14, 2006
Photo Gallery, March 16
Big 12 Champion Kansas (25-7) makes its 17th straight and 35th overall NCAA Tournament appearance as a No. 4 seed in the Oakland Region and will take on No. 13 seed Bradley (20-11), Friday, March 17, at approximately 8:30 p.m. (Central) at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan. The Jayhawks – 2006 Big 12 regular-season co-champions – are coming off their fourth Big 12 and eighth overall league tournament title after their 80-68 win against then-No. 8 Texas Sunday. Kansas will face No. 13 seed Bradley of the Missouri Valley Conference Friday night in first round action. The Braves have won seven of their last eight games and are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1996.
No. 12 Kansas brings a five-game winning streak into its 35th NCAA Tournament appearance. At 25-7, the Jayhawks have won 15 of their last 16 games and are 22-3 since Dec. 10. KU won its 49th overall conference title in 2006, tying Texas at 13-3 in the Big 12 regular season. Named to The Sporting News Freshman All-American Team Monday, guard Brandon Rush is vying to become the first freshman to lead Kansas in scoring, currently at 13.6 ppg, and rebounding, at 5.9 rpg, in the same season. Rush, the Big 12 Freshman of the Year and an all-conference first team selection, is shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 48.5 percent from three-point range. Big 12 Championship MOP Mario Chalmers is next in scoring at 11.4 points per game and his 2.69 steals per contest lead the Big 12. All-Big 12 Honorable Mention sophomore Russell Robinson is next in scoring at nine points per contest and he leads the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.13. His 4.53 assists per game lead the team. All-league honorable mention freshman Julian Wright (8.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and sophomore Sasha Kaun (8.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg) round out the starters. Sophomore C.J. Giles leads the team with 48 blocked shots. Kansas leads the nation in field goal percentage defense at 36.8 percent and paces the Big 12 in assists at 18.06 and steals at 9.72. KU is averaging 75.2 points per game and giving up 60.8.
Bradley is making its eighth appearance in the NCAA Tournament and first since 1996. The Braves are one of three Missouri Valley Conference teams to receive an at-large bid to the event. BU is 20-10 on the season and has won seven of its last eight and 11 of its last 14 games. Its 11-7 MVC record tied Bradley for fifth in the league with Northern Iowa. Bradley features four players who are averaging double figures in scoring. Senior forward Marcellus Sommerville leads the team at 15.4 points per game. A second-team All-MVC selection, Sommerville leads the team with 52 three pointers this season. Also a second-team all-conference selection, sophomore center Patrick O’Bryant is next in scoring at 13.2 ppg and leads the team with eight rebounds per game and 69 blocked shots. O’Bryant is also a member of the 2006 MVC All-Defense Team. Senior guard Tony Bennett is scoring 11 points per game and leads BU with 61 steals. Senior forward Lawrence Wright averages 10 points per outing. Sophomore guard Daniel Ruffin leads Bradley in assists with 5.2 per contest.
The KU-Bradley Series
There has been only one meeting between Kansas and Bradley and that was in the NCAA District playoff on March 14, 1950. The Braves edged the Jayhawks 59-57 and the game was played in Kansas City. Bradley went on to finish runner-up in the 1950 NCAA Tournament to CCNY.
Should Kansas defeat Bradley it will play the winner of the Pittsburgh/Kent State game Sunday at a time to be determined.