Jayhawks snag No. 1 seed in Midwest Region, will start NCAA Tourney run Friday in Tulsa, Okla.

Senior Landen Lucas says Jayhawks 'exactly where we want to be'

The Jayhawks come together during a timeout in the second half, Thursday, March 9, 2017 at Sprint Center.

An earlier-than-expected loss to TCU in last weekend’s Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Mo., did nothing to derail the Kansas men’s basketball team’s ideal path in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

And now the goal for Kansas is to get right back to where that loss took place.

KU's inclusion in this year's field marks the 28th consecutive season of advancing to the Big Dance (1990-2017), which moved Kansas past North Carolina (1975-2001) for the all-time record.

The Jayhawks on Sunday received a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament’s Midwest Region and will open play at 5:50 p.m. Friday on TNT in Tulsa, Oklahoma, against the winner of the First Four match-up between North Carolina Central and UC Davis in Dayton, Ohio, set for 5:40 p.m. Wednesday.

After earning a No. 1 seed for the seventh time in the past 11 seasons, the Jayhawks now know that two victories in Tulsa would bring them back to Kansas City’s Sprint Center for the Sweet 16.

“There’s already enough incentive to progress forward in the tournament and not lose,” said senior forward Landen Lucas after the bracket was revealed. “But if it adds anything, we know that getting past this first weekend and getting to play in front of our fans for a chance to go to the Final Four is huge.”

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Kansas head coach Bill Self talks with media members following the NCAA selection show on ...

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2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament ( .PDF )

Asked for his initial thoughts on the Midwest Region as a whole, KU coach Bill Self, like all coaches this time of year, said he initially was stunned by all of the talented teams that piled up in his corner of the bracket.

“It’s the same reaction I have every year, like, ‘Are you kidding me?’” said Self of a region that includes No. 2 Louisville, No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Purdue and No. 5 Iowa State, among others. “That’s what I initially thought. Obviously, I think it’s very difficult, but everybody in the tournament could say the same thing.”

In order to narrow the focus as much as possible and avoid the potential pitfalls that could come from looking too far down the road, Self said his team would emphasize winning a four-team tournament in Tulsa this weekend before worrying about anything else. Eighth-seeded Miami, Fla. (21-11) and No. 9 seed Michigan State (19-14) also play Friday, with the winner facing the winner of KU’s game on Sunday.

“That’s our only focus,” said Self of advancing past the first weekend. “We’re happy that we were a 1 seed (and) we’re obviously happy that we get to stay fairly regional with our travel.”

While many Jayhawks already had been through the fun of Selection Sunday and what comes next, there was one difference about this year’s experience for everybody. While watching the bracket unveiling from their theater room at McCarthy Hall, the Jayhawks discovered they would have to wait longer than normal to learn the identity of their first opponent.

“I do think it’s a bit of a disadvantage, not knowing who you’re going to play the first game,” Self said of facing a play-in opponent in the first round. “But, obviously, the other teams are going to have to do the same thing, as well.”

Added Lucas, when asked if the unknown would alter KU’s preparation: “It does a little bit, but our coaches do a good job of at least making sure we’re pretty well informed on both teams and then as soon as we do find out (who we’re playing) we’ll put a little more focus into that team.... (We've) just got to go and make sure we’re on top of our game, and the rest will kind of handle itself.”

For a team that features three seniors who have yet to reach the Final Four in their careers and a freshman All-American who likely won’t get another chance, Lucas said the goal from this point on — beyond the obvious of winning each game — was to make sure that everyone on the roster was as focused, prepared and determined as possible to give the Jayhawks their best shot of getting to Arizona for their first Final Four appearance since 2012.

Just because they’ve only been there twice in Self’s 14 seasons leading the program does not mean the Jayhawks are strangers to the formula for getting the job done.

“Here’s the reality of the tournament: You’ve got to have fun, you’ve got to play loose,” Self said. “And sometimes that’s difficult to do if you know that it’s a one-and-done scenario. So the teams that are able to balance that, to be intent, competitive, loose, fresh, still play with a purpose, those are the teams that usually play the best. And last year, we actually did a great job in the NCAA Tournament.”

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Kansas forward Landen Lucas talks with media members following the NCAA selection show on Sunday, ...

Drawing on last year’s run and adding to it is something the Jayhawks plan to do in the next couple of weeks.

“I’m very confident,” Lucas said. “Because I feel like we understand just how important it is to get everybody on board, and we’re not accepting anything short of that focus and laser-sharp attention that is needed for each and every game.... We’ll take it as seriously as you can, and I’ll make sure that we do.”

The fact that KU’s 2015-16 season ended in the Elite Eight, just a few possessions shy of advancing, is a memory that never left Lucas or his teammates who were there and could prove to be a driving force for this year’s run.

“After last year, all that I could think of was getting back to that spot and having another opportunity,” Lucas said. “This is exactly where we want to be.”


More from Selection Sunday


Comments

Craig Alexander

I'm ready for Mason and Lucas to be our calm leaders while Jackson, Graham, Svi, Bragg, and Vick bring the energy. This is a team very capable of winning six games. Purdue has length but so did Baylor. Louisville and Oregon have fallen on some hard times so our bracket could look really interesting come Sunday. Lace em up!

9 months, 1 week ago

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Joe Ross

Tulsa will be a homecoming for Self personally. KC is KU's backyard.

Home cookin' tastes really good. 'Specially when it's barbecue.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Marius Rowlanski

I bet Iowa State will be happy playing in Kansas City. Seemed like they enjoyed the cooking also. Head to Hayward's!

9 months, 1 week ago

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Joe Ross

I would love to have more information on the strongest frontcourts in our regional

9 months, 1 week ago

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John Randall

Purdue has the biggest bigs in B1G, but like all of that conference has been inconsistent through the season. They have a (national) POY candidate named Swanigan at power forward, a +footer starts at center and there is depth enough to dish out plenty of tough fouls if referees follow protocol to swallow whistles and "let them play."

Michigan St didn't have a good year (for Izzo), but as always, likes to bang hard underneath.

Then there is Kentucky whose youngsters are a much stronger threat than KU faced the last weekend in January.

Iowa St we should know all about, since they broke our AFH streak a couple of weeks ago in one of our two conference losses.

Like Coach Self says, every Regional top seed is feeling put upon by the seeding committee, but none of them should have any serious trouble getting through this week's 'pods' in Tulsa or wherever, but the Regional in KC should be barn-burning competition all four days.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Joe Ross

Excellent, John!

9 months, 1 week ago

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Steve Johnson

We need Vick to play in control, Graham to hit 30% from the field, Bragg to stay on the bench, Svi to try playing defense and all of them need to hit free throws.
If that Happens, hello Final 4!
The guarantee is that mason will not let them lose the first weekend. He will control the game and as always be the X factor.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Bryce Landon

All I ask of Kansas is not to lose to the 16-seed, whoever it is, and don't lose to Iowa State if we should meet in the Sweet 16.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Brianna Zaleski

Bryce,

Since you are always so supportive, faithful and optimistic about the Jayhawks, I'm sure they are eager to answer your call.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Tony Bandle

Oakville Oddities:

1] The fact that no #16 has ever beaten a #1 in NCAA history pretty much indicates a couple days delay for KU to learn their first opponent won't make much difference.

2] I cringed when I saw Michigan State in our bracket. Izzo gets more out of a team at
tourney time, especially against Kansas, than any coach i know., I am officially rooting for Miami.

3] Josh Jackson will be motivated thru the roof to make up for the TCU loss which he took very personally.

4] The NCAA Selection Committee did a great job of seeding [except for screwing Wichita State] for the tourney. Do you know how I know? Every #1 is feeling they got shafted. The best contract is the one whereby no one is totally happy.

5] Are Brianna and Suzi the only ladies who post on this site? They do a great job.

6] Jay Scott...paging Jay Scott. I think I saw his name on a milk carton the other day!!

9 months, 1 week ago

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Marius Rowlanski

Last word that I heard was that Jay Scott was going to visit Rodney Crain.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Joe Ross

3] I hope he makes up for it after the first weekend.

4] Was definitely a good job seeding the field and bracketing this year. Best I can recall.

5] Shannon Gustafson (sp?)

6] I dont miss the vitrol one bit.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Marius Rowlanski

4) I don't understand how North Carolina gets a number one seed after losing their first game in the tournament over Arizona who beat both Oregon and UCLA to win their tournament.

Duke went from being ranked 14th to a number 2 seed after losing to Notre Dame.

Other than that, I do think they did a good job. I think we have the 2nd easiest route and Arizona having #2 seed may have come out ahead in the easiest (imo) West bracket.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Brock Wells

Landon is a very impressive young man.

As a fan, I'm more calm and confident this year then any other year I can remember besides 2008. I actually like that we play 6.5 guys. Landon has done an excellent job of playing without fouling especially late in games and I would think he has earned that reputation with the refs.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Harlan Hobbs

Not to raise bad memories, but isn't Tulsa where we lost to Northern Iowa back in 2010 in the round of 32?

Nothing is guaranteed, but I like KU's draw. You expect to play good and hungry teams throughout the tournament so lace them up tight, men.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Bill Walberg

That would be Oklahoma City...where I was stuck there overnight due to a snowstorm.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Russ McCaig

yes, OKC...the last time my wife and I attended one of the games in the NCAA tourney...she vowed never to go to another; we had a horribly drunk KSU fan in front of us who kept turning around and yelling at us...THAT plus Farokhmanesh going off was too much for my very passionate wife to handle...we'll be watching from home...(we do have season tix to AFH, however!)....RCJH!!!

9 months, 1 week ago

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Len Shaffer

Yeah, OK City has not been kind to the 'Hawks, who also lost there to Rhode Island in '98. That one was particularly tough for me as I was, ironically, in the show Oklahoma, and found out at intermission that KU had lost. I then had to go on in the second act and try to erase the memory of another brutal KU defeat -- needless to say, it wasn't one of my best performances.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Len Shaffer

Where are all the people who panicked after the TCU loss? Weren't there people saying there was no way that KU would be a one seed or get to play in K.C. (or even Tulsa, for that matter)? Common, guys, where are your mea culpas?

9 months, 1 week ago

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Marius Rowlanski

I think a lot of people stated as I did that Kansas no longer controlled their own destiny. Losing to TCU left the NCAA bracket committee in charge. Fortunately, they did the right thing in our case.

Unfortunately, for Arizona, they pretty much screwed them over. They beat Oregon and UCLA to win the Pac 12 tournament only to have North Carolina (who lost in their first game of the ACC tournament) become the #1 seed.

If you're waiting on a mea culpa from me, you'll probably be farting dust long before that happens.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Corey Sparks

I don't see how Arizona got shafted. I agree they should have been a 1 seed over UNC, but if you look at their draw they are in the weakest region, imo and from what I understand most people's opinion. I think they have an easier road to the Final four than we have, and definitely easier than UNC has. The only way they got shafted is, they don't have that pretty "Number 1" next to their name.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Harlan Hobbs

I stand corrected re: OKC vs. Tulsa. Whew!

As is true in most seasons, the #1 seeds were essentially predetermined at the end of the regular season. Therefore, Arizona and Oregon were playing for location as opposed to a #1 seed, regardless of what Bill Walton was professing. Interesting how he seems to be more partial to U of A than his alma mater, UCLA. Of course, it is probably because his son went the U of A.

Believe me, living here in Tucson, the folks are thrilled with their draw as a #2 in the West. They think that they have the easiest path to the Final Four. I hope not, though, as I'll never hear the end of it from them. Sean Miller hasn't been their yet, so they may be due.

9 months, 1 week ago

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Marius Rowlanski

I stayed with a friend in Tucson for a couple of months way back in '92. He worked at the Canyon Ranch as a hiking guide.

Great place.

9 months, 1 week ago

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