The 9th-seeded UConn Huskies look to advance to the Sweet Sixteen but No. 1 Kansas stands in their way. The Jayhawks have arguably been the most dominant team in college basketball all season, losing only four games while dominating the field in a competitive Big 12, capturing the regular season and tournament titles.
Kansas has won 15 straight but this UConn team is firing on all cylinders. Below we dissect the keys to the today's second round matchup.
Location: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa.
Time: 7:45 (approx.)
Radio: UConn/IMG Radio Network
Spread: UConn +7.5
All-time series: 0-2
Overall: Kansas - 2; UConn - 23
Offense: Kansas - 9; UConn - 57
Defense: Kansas - 6; UConn - 12
Projection: Kansas 72-66 (73% win probability)
Key players for Kansas:
Perry Ellis, senior, forward, 6-8. Ellis is the Jayhawks' leading scorer, averaging 16.8 points per game on .527 percent shooting. Ellis' is also the team's second-leading rebounder and has plenty of NCAA tournament experience.
Wayne Selden Jr., junior, guard, 6-5. From the same town as Jalen Adams, Selden is athletic threat from the perimeter who can do a bit of everything. Selden is one of four Kansas players to average in double figures, scoring 13.3 per contest.
Frank Mason III, junior, guard, 5-11. Like Ellis, Mason has started every game this season for Bill Self. Scoring 13 points per game, Mason is also the team's leading assister, dishing out just under five per game.
Key players for UConn:
Daniel Hamilton, sophomore, forward, 6-7. The Huskies' third-leading scorer and top rebounder and assister has continued his strong play from the AAC tournament into the bid dance. Hamilton will likely to have to matchup with Selden and needs to have another solid shooting night for the Huskies to pull the upset.
Amida Brimah, junior, center, 7-0. Brimah's protecting the paint will be especially important against Ellis inside.
Shonn Miller, senior, forward, 6-7. Miller has been UConn's most consistent player all season, and will be matched up with the ageless wonder Perry Ellis tonight. He needs to avoid foul trouble—though based on last game that seems to be out of his hands—and UConn needs to make sure to work him into the half court offense.
Reasons for optimism
While the Huskies have never beaten Kansas in two meetings, they are 3-5 all-time in the tournament against No. 1 seeds. UConn will have to play its very best to keep up with the highly skilled Jayhawks. Over their five-game winning streak, the Huskies have been doing just that, showing against Cincinnati, Temple and Colorado that early deficits have little effect. This program seems to have a knack for postseason magic, a small fact that will undoubtedly be weighing on the minds of Kansas.
Reasons to be nervous
This is the best team UConn will have faced all season. The Jayhawks have been near the top of the rankings all year long and have plenty of experienced players who won't shy away from this moment. Ellis, Selden and Moore could be nightmare matchups for the Huskies. If UConn doesn't bring its absolute best tonight, this one could be over very quickly- despite the Huskies' penchant for making big comebacks.
Additional Reading/Watching Material
NCAA Tournament 2nd Round: Q&A with the Kansas SB Nation Site - The UConn Blog
The friendly people of Rock Chalk Talk were kind enough to answer a few questions about Kansas hoops, and if they might welcome UConn into the Big 12.
Final Score: UConn Huskies Beat Colorado to Advance to Second Round - The UConn Blog
The Huskies were trailing at the half but Daniel Hamilton led an impressive comeback effort to propel UConn into the second round.
VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Conversation with Jim Calhoun and Kevin Ollie - The UConn Blog
We had a chance to sit down with Jim Calhoun and Kevin Ollie to discuss their relationship and what it means to be part of the UConn basketball family.
UConn Huskies Daily Roundup - 3/19/16 - The UConn Blog
Read about Caron Butler's donation to UConn and other UConn Athletics news.