This Thursday, No. 4 Kansas takes on 13th-seeded Northeastern in first round action in the Midwest Region in Salt Lake City. The winner will play the winner of Auburn-New Mexico State.
Preview: Big 12 history was made this year. Unfortunately for the Kansas Jayhawks, they were on the brunt end of it. KU's unbelievable streak of Big 12 regular season titles, which dated back to 2004, was snapped, due in large part to Kansas' remarkable struggles away from Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas was perfect at home, but just 8-9 outside of Lawrence, and 3-8 in true road games on the year.
There was no high-profile team this season that faced the amount of roster adversity as the Jayhawks, with a major injury to star center Udoka Azubuike knocking him out for the year, Lagerald Vick's departure from the team at mid-season, and the NCAA's suspension of Silvio De Sousa for two years. With them out, if Kansas is to make a run, it falls on star forward Dedric Lawson and guard Devon Dotson to lead the way.
For the first time since 2015, the Northeastern Huskies are your CAA Champions, and will represent the league in the NCAA Tournament. Last time, Bill Coen's club gave No. 3 seed Notre Dame a serious scare, falling 69-65. That Fighting Irish team wound up advancing to the Elite Eight.
Northeastern is 23-10 on the year, and finished second in the CAA regular season. However, they knocked off regular season champ Hofstra in the league title game to steal the Pride's bid. The Huskies boast a guard-heavy rotation led by Vasa Pusica (17.8 points, 49.7/40.1/84.3 shooting) and Jordan Roland (14.7 points, 45.4/90.3/40.8).
Date: Thursday, March 21
Time: Approx. 4 p.m. ET
TV Channel: TNT
Location: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Announcers: Carter Blackburn / Debbie Antonelli // John Schriffen
Prediction: This is not a vintage Kansas team, and we've seen Jayhawk teams like this get upset in years past. If KU doesn't get consistent guard play, it won't last long in the tournament.
Still, we like them to get a win here. Kansas is the pick.