NCAA Tournament Sweet 16: Kansas Jayhawks vs. Richmond Spiders – Can KU Avoid Another Upset?

Historically the Kansas Jayhawks are a damn good team. I mean upper-echelon, destination, McDonald's All-American after McDonald's All-American good. But if you are on Big12Hoops.com you know that.

You also know that in the past few seasons immensely talented KU teams have looked a little past their unheralded opponents and have exited the NCAA Tournament in an untimely fashion. I 2005 it was 14-seeded Bucknell, in 2006 it was 13-seeded Bradley and last season it was 9-seeded Northern Iowa.

Now In 2011 they face another high seeded Mid-Major in the Richmond Spiders. Being that it is the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, no team can sneak up on another like you can in the first week, but the Jayhawks need to look out if they are hoping to advance to their first Final Four since cutting down the nets in 2008.

And interestingly enough, in order to reach the Final Four, KU might take the exact same path as that championship squad.

In '08, KU was a one seed and defeated a 16-seed, 8-seed, 12-seed and 10-seed to reach the Texas town of San Antonio, home of that season's Final Four.

This season, KU has already defeated 16-seeded Boston U. and 9-seeded Illinois. A win over 12-seeded Richmond and a 10-seeded Florida State victory over VCU in the other half of the Southwest region will essentially align the Jayhawks to their 2008 brothers in getting to the Final Four in the Texas town of Houston.

For that to happen, though, KU needs to put points on the board. In Richmond's two victories they held Vanderbilt and Morehead State to an average of 57 points. Though they aren't setting the nets on fire, scoring an average of 67 points in their two wins, a 10-point swing in these settings is pretty impressive.

KU, on the other hand is scoring more and giving up less in their two wins. Against Boston U. and Illinois, the Jayhawks have only surrendered an average of 56 points, while scoring 72 and 73 in the the first weekend of the tournament.

We should see a good low post match-up between Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris and Richmond's Justin Harper. The 6'10 Harper leads Richmond in scoring at 17.9 ppg and has scored 16 per game in his two tourney appearances this season. The Morris twins average a combined 30.9 ppg on the season and have contributed 36 a game in this tournament.

If the Jayhawks can neutralize Harper - which I feel they should be able to do - they will run away with this one and easily reach the Final Four. If Harper can get the twins, and Thomas Robinson, in foul trouble then it will be up to the KU guards to lead the charge. I don't doubt they are up for it.

The game tips tonight at 6:27 p.m. CT and can be seen on TBS.

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