No. 1 Seed Kansas To Face Portland State In NCAA Basketball Tournament First Round

March 16, 2008

Tournament Central

<?xml:namespace prefix=”st1″ ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags”?>KANSAS CITY, Mo. – After claiming a share of the Big 12 regular season championship and then defeating Texas in the tournament title game on Sunday, the University of Kansas men’s basketball team will face Big Sky tournament champion PortlandState in a first-round NCAA Tournament game in Omaha, Neb. on Thursday.

The Kansas game will tipoff at 11:25 a.m. Central time as the first game of the first session in Omaha. UNLV and Kent State will follow 30 minutes after the conclusion. The second session in Omaha includes USC vs. Kansas State at 6:10 p.m. followed by Wisconsin vs. Cal State Fullerton.

<?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

The Jayhawks, who are the No. 1 seed in the Midwest, are making their 37th NCAA Tournament appearance as well as their 19th consecutive trip to the event. Kansas is a No. 1 seed for the eighth time in school history and second straight season. Last year the Jayhawks reached the Elite Eight before falling to UCLA.

Kansas was also a No. 1 seed in 1986, 92, 95, 97, 92, 2002 and 2007. The Jayhawks are 17-7 in the tournament as a No. 1 seed. KU reached the Final Four in 1986 and 2002 as a top seed.

Kansas and PortlandState will be meeting for the first time in history. KU is 8-0 against current members of the Big Sky Conference.

While Kansas has never played an NCAA Tournament game in Omaha, the Jayhawks have played in the state of Nebraska in postseason play. KU is 3-1 in tournament games played in Lincoln, Neb.

In 1984 KU defeated AlcornState 57-56 in the first round before losing 69-59 to WakeForest in the second round. The Jayhawks returned to Lincoln in 1988, defeating Xavier 85-72 in the first round and MurrayState 61-58 in the second round. KU went on to win the national championship that year.

Kansas head coach Bill Self is 16-9 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 and 2008.

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

The winner of the Kansas vs. PortlandState game will meet the winner of the No. 8 UNLV vs. No. 9 Kent State game in the second round on Saturday at approximately 5:50 p.m. That game will come 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game of the session, which tips off at 3:20 p.m.

Head Coach Bill Self

On being a No. 1 seed:

“I’m not sure if it really makes that much difference, to be honest with you. It’s nice that we are going to Omaha. I don’t know much about PortlandState yet, but we’ll know more by tonight.”

“We’re exited to be playing. Right now, I am just worn out. I’m going to go home, get a good night’s rest, and recharge the batteries.”

On the difference between being a No. 1 and No. 2 seed:

“I think if we were a two seed, our year would have been just as good. In peoples’ minds, when you are a one seed, they think you are one of the best four teams in the country. Being a No. 1 seed was not the goal. The goal was to have a favorable path, and while there are no easy paths, it’s nice to stay in the Midwest Region.”

On KansasState being a No. 11 seed:

“I was surprised by that. The story line there is not (Michael) Beasley vs. O.J. (Mayo), it’s (Bill) Walker vs. O.J.”

On the similarities between this year’s sites and the 1988 sites:

“We have actually told our team about that. Today, at halftime, I told Danny (Manning) that this might have been the best half of ball since the first half of the 1988 national championship game in Kansas City. It was that well played. Then the second half became a slower-paced defensive struggle. Not to say this game was played at that level, but it was similar.”

Senior Guard Russell Robinson

On the selection process:

“We just won the championship game 20 minutes ago and now we are back to business. We are fortunate to get a one seed and now let the journey begin. Anytime you are a number one in anything you have to enjoy it.”

On playing in Omaha:

“I just ask all the Jayhawk fans to come to Omaha and show their support. I think that together we can get some wins and I am just excited to start playing.”

On playing Portland St:

“If we don’t know much about them now, we will in the next 24 hours. The coaches will get right on it and get us a game plan. We just have to play with energy and keep doing what we have been doing.”

Senior Forward Sasha Kaun

On Kansas St. playing in Omaha as well:

“I was a little surprised that they were placed in Omaha as well. I expected them to be in it (the NCAA tournament) and I think they deserve to be in the tournament. It will be cool for them to get to play so close to home and get to enjoy a home-court advantage.”

On putting the Big 12 Championship behind them:

“We have to put it behind us as soon as possible and start looking forward to Thursday. Hopefully we can relax tomorrow and then start getting better and working on some things to prepare for Thursday.”