Kansas Jayhawks (30-4) vs. Niagara Purple Eagles (23-11)
When: Friday, 7: 10 p.m.
1. Sharing The Wealth. Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers, Darrell Arthur, Sherron Collins, Sasha Kaun, Darnell Jackson and Julian Wright have all had their turn leading the team in scoring. For the math-challenged amongst you, that's seven different players. And what does this mean for you, poor 16 seed? Unlike KU teams of recent vintage, these Jayhawks do not rely heavily on one or two superstars to carry the load. Thank God, because with a young rotation made up of three sophomores, three juniors and two awe-inspiring freshmen, these baby Jayhawks can be pretty inconsistent.
2. Sweet Home Chicago. Two of the Jayhawks' most highly-touted players, freshman Sherron Collins and sophomore Julian Wright, hail from greater Chicagoland. Bill Self has built upon the connections he forged in the area while coaching the University of Illinois and made recruiting the Chicago area a priority. It's a good thing, too, because while the Jayhawks' roster features five native Kansans, only one of them is averaging more than one point per game (freshman Brady Morningstar). Though Illini fans see the controversial signings of these players as proof of recruiting improprieties on the part of head coach Bill Self, Kansas fans helpfully respond by pointing out that Bruce Weber is not a very good recruiter and also, kind of insane. (Ed. Note: Bill Self wears a toupee!)
3. By the Numbers. With Saturday's win over the Texas Male Cows, the Jayhawks chalked up win number 1900 (third all time) and conference championship number 50 (not all achieved in the Big XII). While some people point to the Bradley or Bucknell debacles as the worst Jayhawks losses in history, for my money it doesn't get any worse than the infamous 1902 loss to the Muscatine, IA YMCA. — Pete Gaines
NIAGARA PURPLE EAGLES
1. We wear purple to stay neutral. MAAC Tournament MVP and freshman Tyrone Lewis was barred from his valedictorian speech at his High School in Levittown, Penn., because of a threat by the ever-popular Bloods. When his sister testified against the gang they shot at Tyrone's car, killing one of his friends after a school dance, and they threatened to get him during his graduation speech. His speech was given over closed-circuit feed from an undisclosed location. When the team traveled to Rider this year for an away game, Tyrone received a police escort from the arena to the team bus based on the high concentration of bloods in the area.
2. Not The First Time. We've been to the NCAA's twice before this, once with Calvin Murphy's team in 1970 and once with All-American Juan Mendez in 2005. In 2005 the school flipped out and NU was a huge story in the media based on its 35-year drought. Going to the NCAAs twice in three years (with an NIT bid the year before that) has been splendid. One more thing: There's no way we're a 16 seed. Jay Bilas said so!
3. Not Guilty, and We're Filthy. Back in August there was a scuffle between some basketball players and some baseball players, which lead to a concussion and some basketball suspensions. Team MVP Charron Fisher was suspended for eight games but the charges were ultimately dropped. During those games we went 2-6; since then we've gone 20-5, including a current 11-game win streak. In that time Fisher averaged 21 points per game and eight rebounds. Opposing fans enjoy singing the "Cops" theme song to our players, because they are completely misinformed. The players eat it up and use it as inspiration to play hard and quiet opposing fans.
Bonus Fact... I'm the Student Body President at the University and have attended every home game except two in my time at NU. To get to this weekend's tournament (since I was broke), I volunteered to wear the Purple Eagle costume and portray Monte the Eagle. That's right: This preview is being written by the mascot. — Eric Clingersmith