Kansas may get star center Udoka Azubuike back for the start of the NCAA Tournament. The 7-foot center is being called a "game-time decision" for the Penn game.
Earlier this month, Azubuike suffered an MCL sprain during practice. It cost him the Big 12 Tournament, which KU won without the big man.
He last played in Kansas's regular season finale loss to Oklahoma State. Azubuike is a key play for the Jayhawks, averaging 13.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game.
He's even more vital for the team given its lack of front court depth. KU plays a eight man rotation; only Azubuike, Mitch Lightfoot, and newcomer Silvio De Sousa are true front court players.
Despite some upset picks, Kansas should be able to get by No. 16 Penn without him. However, he may be available.
Bill Self thinks that Udoka Azubuike could play in the game, but would probably be limited.
“He practiced four possessions today, live,” KU coach Bill Self said Wednesday. “So he showed he could do it, but it'll be a game-time decision to determine whether he'll be utilized or not, but he's doing much better.”
“We feel, and the docs feel, that he's making unbelievable progress. We do not want to have a setback, but we certainly feel he's getting better each day and each day has certainly played out to be a pretty big improvement from a rehab standpoint. So I'm optimistic he can get in the game (vs. Penn). I'm not overly optimistic he can play significant minutes or be a real positive force inside for us. But I do think he can be out there.”
Azubuike is KU's top rebounder by a decent margin. After him, guards Lagerald Vick and Malik Newman average 4.9 per game each.
If Kansas gets by Penn, it will face the winner of No. 8 Seton Hall and No. 9 NC State. Despite those middling seeds, those are two pretty dangerous clubs.
The Jayhawks' round of 64 game is set to tip off at 2 p.m. ET in Wichita. The line for the game against the Quakers is floating between 13.5 and 14 points, a fairly low spread for a No. 1 vs. 16 game.