No. 3 Seed Kansas To Face North Dakota State in NCAA Tournament First Round

March 15, 2009

– NCAA Tournament Central
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The Big 12 regular season champions, the University of Kansas men’s basketball team (25-7) will face the Summit League tournament champion North Dakota State (26-6) in a first-round NCAA Tournament game in Minneapolis, Minn., on Friday, March 20, at 11:30 a.m. (Central) in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.

Joining the Jayhawks in Minneapolis are No. 6 West Virginia vs. No. 11 Dayton, No. 7 Boston College vs. No. 10 USC and No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 15 Robert Morris.

KU, who is the No. 3 seed in the Midwest, is making its 38th NCAA Tournament appearance as well as its 20th consecutive trip to the event. Kansas is a No. 3 seed for the third time in school history as the Jayhawks were also a third-seeded team in 1985 and 1991. KU is 6-2 as a three seed and has never played in an NCAA Tournament game in the state of Minnesota. In 1991, KU lost in the title game to Duke.

Last year Kansas, ranked a one seed, defeated Memphis in overtime to win the national championship.

Kansas and NDSU will be meeting for the first time in history on the basketball court. KU is 15-4 against current members of the Summit League.

Kansas head coach Bill Self is 22-9 all-time in the NCAA Tournament having taken Tulsa in 1999 and 2000, Illinois in 2001, 2002 and 2003 and Kansas in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Self’s teams have reached the Elite Eight five times, once with Tulsa (2000), once with Illinois (2001), and three times with Kansas (2004, 2007 and 2008).

The winner of the Kansas vs. North Dakota State game will meet the winner of the No. 6 West Virginia vs. No. 11 Dayton game in the second round on Sunday. Tip time for that contest will be at either 1:30 p.m. or 4 p.m.

Selection Sunday

Head Coach Bill Self Quotes

March 15, 2009

On Kansas getting the No. 3 seed in the Midwest:

“I thought we got where we deserved to be. I think for our hopes to be a No. 2 seed, we were going to have to perform a little bit better than we did in Oklahoma City. You say this every year because everybody looks at it selfishly, but I don’t think that we were done any favors with the bracket that we have. But I’m not displeased at all. I think it’s a very difficult bracket, but I’m sure that everybody, whatever seed they are in their respective regions, feels the exact same way.”

On playing in Minneapolis:

“I like Minneapolis fine, but it’s pretty close to North Dakota. And based on how many people they had at their selection show, you know that they will have some fans there. I would also think that Michigan State, right in the heart of Big Ten country, would certainly draw well. Hopefully since the game is on Friday, I think that will be better for KU fans to travel because they would just miss one day of work. I don’t have anything against the location. I selfishly would have liked to have been in Kansas City, but we knew that probably wasn’t going to happen after we didn’t do well in the Big 12 Tournament.”

On if he was surprised that Oklahoma got the No. 2 seed in Kansas City:

“No, not really. I think if you look at the entire year and don’t break it down to non-conference and conference, I think that you could say OU had a better year. I think when you look at conference, it’s obvious that we had a better conference year than they had. But, I think that their non-conference was better, that the separation was probably a little bit better than our separation during conference play. What we needed to have happen for us to be a No. 2 seed in Kansas City was to play better in the Big 12 Tournament. We didn’t have to win it, but I think beating Baylor would have gotten it done. But I think we got exactly what we should have gotten, to be honest with you. I’m not complaining one bit at all.”

On how the players have handled the last couple days:

“Pretty good. There wasn’t as much energy in our room to watch the selection show because we already kind of knew how we scored. But we will be excited to play. Certainly it’s good for Cole (Aldrich), it’s a good chance to go back home and play in front of his friends and family. I told Cole we were going to try to schedule Minnesota, but I didn’t know we would get him back home this way. But the guys have responded pretty well. We had two good days of practice. We had a double session yesterday and they were good.”

On if having a full week to practice after the Big 12 Tournament will be beneficial:

“I think it could be. When you’re playing well, you want to keep on playing. When you don’t play as well, you want to be able to practice. I know this, I’m not disappointed that we play on Friday. You would think that since we played last Thursday, we would probably want to play as soon as possible. But I’m not disappointed that we play on Friday because I need to really become familiar with North Dakota State and also the potential teams that North Dakota State or we could play. And I’m sure they feel the same way.”

On how familiar he is with North Dakota State:

“I’m not. It’s a great story though. If I’m not mistaken, it’s their first year to be eligible for the tournament. Not their first year in Division I, but you have to kind of go through a probationary period. But their first year to be eligible for the tournament, to win it. They also redshirted multiple guys to play for this moment. As an outsider looking in, I was really happy for them. I’m not nearly as happy for them now as I was last week when I watched them play in the tournament. They shoot the ball extremely well. Of course they have the player of the year in their league. You look at their stats, the top-four scorers hit a ton of threes and they shoot 41 percent as a team from three-point range. I would imagine that’s in the top-ten in the country. We will definitely have our hands full.”

On if he has game tape on North Dakota State:

“We have tape. We will have plenty of tape. Every game that they’ve played on TV in the last month and a half, we have. We will be able to break some film down tonight. We start taping every game that is on TV in those respective leagues beginning in February. Just in case there’s a chance we play them. A lot of games aren’t on TV. But if we can pull it down on satellite, we tape it. And then of course during the conference tournaments, the majority of all those games are on some form of TV. I haven’t been in the office yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t have at least three or four games on them already.”

On if the title “defending champions” carries anything into the tournament:

“When you use the term “defending”, I think that you’re trying to hang onto something. We don’t need to be thinking like that. We need to be thinking about winning as opposed to not losing. The other thing is, if we returned our players like Florida did when they repeated, you could certainly talk about it. But there was one player that scored last year in the championship game on our team (Sherron Collins), so we have a new cast of players that really haven’t won yet to defend. That may be motivation a little bit, but I don’t think it’s a ton.”

Player Quotes

Sophomore center Cole Aldrich

His initial thoughts on playing North Dakota State:

“We are trying to stay as focused as we can right now. North Dakota State is going to be a tough team. They shoot a lot of three’s. They are shooting 47 percent from three (point range) as a team and that is really good.”

On playing in Minneapolis:

“I am excited. I hope that it will be 85 degrees there but it is probably going to be about 15 degrees. I am not really worried about going back home. I would have loved to have played in Kansas City, but no matter if we are in Boise, Kansas City or anywhere else, I am just excited to go back out and play again.”

On the mindset of the team:

“We are excited to get back playing. We feel like when we played Baylor we weren’t ourselves. We really want to get back out there and prove to ourselves that we are a good team. We might have been in a little slump. We caught Texas Tech at a really good time and Baylor made a great run in the tournament. They lost to Missouri the other day but they are another good team. These last few days we have just tried to get better as a team.”

Junior guard Sherron Collins

On the importance of perimeter defense against North Dakota State:

“It is going to be really important. We are going to have to guard them and get out and pressure them to take them out of their comfort zone. We are going to have to come out with intensity and come out ready to play.”

On how the team handled the loss to Baylor:

“We have had two really good days of practice. We feel like we got back to (being) ourselves. We got a chance to work on a few things and got a chance to get our legs back. I think that we will come out a little fresher than most teams. We have two more days of practice; we will turn up the intensity and get ready to play.”

On how the team’s young players are approaching the tournament:

“I think that the coaches have done a good job of preparing the young guys. Cole and I try to talk to those guys as much as we can and let them know that we don’t have any time to get this next game back like we did in the conference tournament. I think we will be ready to play. I am so anxious to play that I wish it started tomorrow.”