Kansas Jayhawks (32-4) vs. Southern Illinois Salukis (29-6)
When: 7:10 p.m. ET
Where: San Jose
1. Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk. The Rock Chalk Chant is one of the most famous college cheers IN HISTORY, but what the hell is it and where did it come from? Because I'm writing close to deadline, I'll let the gents from Rock Chalk Zone: The Rock Chalk Chant is perhaps the most distinctive cheer in all of college sports. Some have likened it to a Gregorian chant, but anyone who has been in Allen Fieldhouse and heard the chant start low, then build and roll over the crowd knows that it is much, much more. The "Rock Chalk" chant dates to 1866, when it was adopted by the University Science Club. A chemistry professor, E.H.S. Bailey and some of his associates were returning to Lawrence from Wichita on a train. As the story goes, they passed the time by trying to create a rousing cheer. The sound of the train's wheels on the rails suggested a rhythm and a cadence to them. At first, the cheer was "Rah, Rah, Jayhawk, KU" repeated three times. Even though KU didn't have a football team until four years later, KU students quickly took up the chant. Later, an English professor suggested "Rock Chalk," in place of "Rah, Rah" because it rhymed with Jayhawk and because it was symbolic of the limestone, also known as chalk rock, surrounding Mount Oread, the site of the Lawrence Campus. It became the official cheer of the University in 1897. Teddy Roosevelt pronounced the Rock Chalk Chant the greatest college chant he'd ever heard.
2. One of these names is not like the other. Everyone knows about the Rush family basketball pedigree (JaRon, Kareem, Brandon), but did you know that KU almost landed two out of three Rush brothers? It's true: Noted alcoholic and former KU recruiting target JaRon was dropped by Droopy Dog (aka Roy Williams) for referring to the coach as "Roy."
3. Just Sayin. A Google search of "bill self" + toupee shows 1,590 mentions of the combination across the interwebs. — Pete Gaines
1. Doug Gottlieb Has A Crush On The Coach. SIU's coach is Chris Lowery, a former Saluki player point guard who served as an assistant under previous coaches Bruce Weber and Matt Painter, neither of which made it as far in this tournament as he did. Lowery is actually considered a stronger recruiter than his predecessors, no small feat, because if you think Champaign and West Lafayette are boring, you should visit Carbondale sometime. Anyway, Lowery has charmed the pants off recruits and analysts alike, not least of which ESPN's Doug Gottlieb, who says, "He has an innate ability to light up a room with his demeanor and smile." Boy, Doug, did it suddenly get hot in here?
2. Jamaal Tatum Is Impossible To Dislike. Some choice nuggets from an excellent feature story on the Salukis guard by The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Vahe Gregorian:
• At a team pep rally, he broke out a rap he wrote in high school.
• He runs a five-minute mile.
• He can name every song off Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon" album.
3. Carbondale Is Kind Of Like South Chicago. Political pundits often refer to Illinois as a "blue" state, but this is somewhat misleading. The state does vote Democratic in most elections, but that's due almost entirely to Chicago and surrounding areas. If you're not in Chicago, odds are, you're voting Republican. Out of 102 counties in the state of Illinois, only 15 voted for John Kerry in 2004. Fortunately for Democrats, those are tiny counties holding statistically irrelevant cities like Effingham, Homer and Mattoon. The one exception is Jackson County, home of SIU and Carbondale. This has a lot to do with the fact that there are more students at SIU than there are citizens of Carbondale. — Will Leitch