Southwest Region, Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
1) Kansas Jayhawks vs. (12) Richmond Spiders (7:27 on TBS): It wasn't much of a shocker when No. 12-seeded Richmond downed No. 5 Vanderbilt, 69-66, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Why? Well, as I pointed out in my 15 Rules To Follow for bracket predicting, the 12-5 matchup will usually produce an upset. And, I picked the Spiders to upset the Commodores (that's about all I got right).
The Spiders' second-round victory over the No. 13 Morehead St. Eagles, 65-48, was impressive -- Morehead's Kevin Faried, the Ohio Valley Conference two-time Player Of The Year, was held to just 11 points and 13 rebounds. But now, things get real with the Jayhawks (34-2), who are considered one of the three elite teams in the country -- the other No. 1 seeds (Duke and Ohio St.) being the other two elite squads.
"The Kansas guys are much more versatile," said Richmond's head coach Chris Mooney during his press conference on Wednesday. "They can play on the parameter, they do their best work inside. Kansas is also the most committed team, that I've seen, at throwing the ball inside. That's something that really changes how you're going to attack a 2. Some cases you can go and try to keep the ball out of the post the best you can. But with Kansas they will throw the ball back and forth and eventually it will get down there (inside)."
Senior Justin Harper, a 6-foot-10 forward, will need to stay out of foul trouble, but also will be responsible for trying to contain Kansas' inside attack, which features brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris. Marcus Morris is the Jayhawks leading scorer (17. 3 points per game), while Markeiff is the team's leading rebounder (8.2 rebounds per game).
"Just knowing what’s at stake and knowing what we can accomplish by beating those teams," Markeiff Morris responded when asked how Kansas prepares for Richmond at Tuesday's press conference. "We definitely don’t want to overlook a team. We definitely don’t want to play down to their level of competition. We just want to execute and try to win every game."
Unfortunately for Jayhawks' fans, they've seen their team stumble against lower seeds before. In the second round of last year's tournament, No. 9-seeded Northern Iowa stunned the then-No. 1 Jayhawks, 69-67. In the 2006 first round, No. 13 Bradley shocked then-No. 4 Kansas, 77-73; which came a year after ('05) the then-No. 3 Jayhawks were upset by No. 14 Bucknell, 64-63.
The Richmond basketball program (29-7) also has a positive history against Kansas. Back in '04, the 2011 Atlantic 10 champions knocked off the then-No. 14-ranked Jayhawks, 69-68, at Phog Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, KS. The victory snapped a 52-game home winning streak for Kansas.
Prediction: At this point in the tournament, who knows what will happen -- especially if Richmond, a team that lives and dies by the 3-pointer (the Spiders are averaging 20 3-point attempts during the tournament) gets hot from the outside. But I feel that this Kansas team learned from last year's mistakes and will take care of business, 65-50.
-- Visit SB Nation's Rock Chalk Talk for everything Kansas basketball.