Jayhawks to Head to 13th Final Four Against Tar Heels
April 1, 2008
No. 1 seed Kansas (35-3) has advanced to the Final Four for the 13th time in school history and third time in the last seven years (2002 and 2003). The Jayhawks own a 9-12 record in the Final Four going 7-5 in semifinal games, 2-5 in championship games and 0-2 in consolation contests. Kansas won NCAA Championships in 1952 and 1988, while placing second in 1940, ’53, ’57, ’91, and 2003. KU’s 13th Final Four appearance ties Kentucky for the fourth-most appearances all-time (North Carolina and UCLA are making their 17th and Duke has made 15). This year, KU made its 37th NCAA Tournament appearance to rank fourth nationally behind Kentucky (48) and North Carolina and UCLA, which are both playing in their 40th tournament. The Jayhawks will open play in the Final Four against North Carolina (36-2) in the second game on Saturday. Memphis and UCLA will play in the first game, which tips off at 5:07 p.m. CST.
Kansas has won a school-record tying 35 games this season (matches the 1986 and 1998 teams, which each went 35-4), and is 35-3 entering its game against North Carolina on Saturday. The Jayhawks have won 11 consecutive games since dropping a 61-60 game at Oklahoma State on Feb. 23. Kansas leads the nation in scoring margin (+19.4), while ranking in the top five in the country in assists (tied for second at 18.2), field goal percentage (third at 50.7 percent), field goal percentage defense (third at 37.9), and win-loss percentage (tied for third at 92.1). The balanced Jayhawks feature four players scoring in double figures and a fifth at 9.2 points per game. Brandon Rush leads the team with a 13.1 scoring average followed by Darrell Arthur and Mario Chalmers, both at 12.7 and Darnell Jackson at 11.2. Sherron Collins comes off the bench to chip in 9.2 points per game. Russell Robinson averages 7.4 points per game while handing out 157 assists and recording 75 steals to rank second on the team in both categories. Chalmers leads the team with 163 assists and 90 steals. Arthur and Sasha Kahn share the team lead with 49 blocked shots. KU averages 80.6 points per game, while shooting 50.7 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from three-point range. The Jayhawks have limited their opponent to just 61.2 points and just 37.9 percent shooting. KU out-rebounds its opponents by nearly eight boards per game (38.6 to 30.8).
About North Carolina
North Carolina enters the Final Four with a 36-2 record having won 15 consecutive games since an 89-78 home loss against Duke on Feb. 6. The Tar Heels opened the year winning 18 consecutive games before suffering an 82-80 loss at home to Maryland on Jan. 19. The Tar Heels are led by national player of the year candidate Tyler Hansbrough, who leads the team with a 22.8 scoring average and a 10.3 rebounding average. The junior shoots 54.2 percent from the field and 80.6 percent from the line, while also leading the team with 57 steals. Three other Tar Heels average in double figures, including Wayne Ellington (16.6), Ty Lawson (12.8) and Danny Green (11.4). While UNC posts balanced scoring, the Tar Heels also show rebounding balance with six players grabbing at least four boards per contest. Ellington has drained 77 three-pointers, while Green has nailed 53 on the year. As a team, North Carolina is outscoring its opponents by 16.9 points per game and out-rebounding the foes by 11.5 per contest. UNC is making its 18th NCAA Final Four appearance.
Kansas-North Carolina Series
North Carolina leads the all-time series 6-2, including a 2-1 advantage in games played in the NCAA Tournament. The teams’ first ever meeting came in the 1957 NCAA Championship game, a three-overtime thriller won by the Tar Heels, 54-53, at Kansas City, Mo. The other NCAA Tournament matchups both came in Final Four semifinals as Kansas defeated UNC, 79-73, at Indianapolis in 1991. KU then fell to Duke in the championship game. In the 1993 Final Four, North Carolina defeated the Jayhawks in New Orleans, 78-68, en route to winning the national title. The teams last met in the Preseason NIT semifinals in New York in November of 2002 with North Carolina winning, 67-56. In addition to beating North Carolina in 1991, Kansas’ other victory against the Tar Heels was a 56-55 win at Kansas City, Mo. in 1981. Kansas is 32-21 against current members of the Atlantic Coast Conference all-time, including a 71-66 win at Georgia Tech in December this season. Bill Self is 1-1 against North Carolina all-time and 6-4 against current members of the ACC in his career.
Should Kansas advance with a win against North Carolina, the Jayhawks will meet either UCLA or Memphis in the national championship game on Monday, April 7. It would mark KU’s eighth national championship game appearance (1940, ’52, ’53, ’57, ’88, ’91 and 2003).