Kansas Jayhawks: First Round Preview vs. NMSU


The Kansas Jayhawks earned a No. 2 seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament and a match-up with the 23-10 Aggies of New Mexico State.

The 15 seed is currently riding a 13-game winning streak, including a WAC championship.

Here is a breakdown of the Jayhawks’ opponent, and a few things you could see in Friday’s first-round game.

 (2) Kansas vs. (15) New Mexico State

Game details: 11:15 CST, Friday, March 20, CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Neb.

Mar 14, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; New Mexico forward Remi Barry (3) keeps the ball away from Seattle Redhawks guard Isiah Umipig (1) during the Western Athletic Conference Tournament title game at Orleans Arena. New Mexico won the game 81-60. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

What to expect: New Mexico State won’t be scared of the Jayhawks. The Aggies are appearing in the tournament for the fourth year in a row (although they are 0-3 since 2012). However, there is no reason to think they shouldn’t like their chances against a vulnerable (in perception anyway) Jayhawk squad that has dropped four of its last 10 games.

Their top four scorers average 10-plus points per game, and three are seniors, led by Remi Berry at 13.3. So, experience is a plus. While they don’t do a ton of things extremely well, they are 18th in the country in points allowed at 59.3 per game. Part of that is playing a schedule ranked 230th, but also because their defense is solid.

Considering the fact the Jayhawks usually play to their opponents’ strength (i.e. grind it out against Baylor and score 80-plus against Iowa St.), expect a low-scoring battle here as well.

What not to expect: A blowout.

The Jayhawks have only been on the right side of a 20-point victory four times this season, with the only two in conference play against last-place Texas Tech (and who didn’t beat them by 20, cough, cough, Iowa St.). Kansas also has a history of not winning big in first round games. Since 2008, the Jayhawks have been a 1, 2, or 3 seed each of the past six seasons, and have never won by more than 19 points. Coupled with the decent defense each teams play, should keep this game between 5 and 12 points.

Feb 28, 2015; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks forward Perry Ellis (34) shoots a layup as Texas Longhorns forward Myles Turner (52) defends during the second half at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas won 69-64. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Key Players: Kansas — Perry Ellis (13.8 PPG, 7.0 RPG); Frank Mason III (12.3 PPG, 4.0 APG, 3.7 RPG); Wayne Selden, Jr. (9.8 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 2.8 APG); Kelly Oubre, Jr. (9.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG).

New Mexico State — Remi Barry (13.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG); Pascal Siakam (13.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG); Daniel Mullings (12.6 PPG, 5.0 RPG); Tshilidzi Nephawe (10.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG).

What will happen: As mentioned earlier, the Jayhawks rarely blow out anyone in the tournament, and the way this team has played so far this year, it shouldn’t be any different Friday. That being said, it should be a fairly easy win. Look for the Aggies to hang with KU for the first 10 minutes (or maybe 20), before Ellis and Co. pull away.

The Wichita junior should be the healthiest he has been since injuring his knee two weeks ago, which will play a big factor in the tournament. Selden has looked the best he has all year, averaging 22.5 PPG and 6.5 RPG in the semifinal and championship Big 12 Tournament games. If Oubre plays like he did against TCU (25 points and six rebounds) it will be closer to a double-digit win than a last possession type game.

Prediction: Kansas 66, New Mexico State 55

Here’s a look at some highlights from the Aggies’ WAC championship win against Seattle.

Next: Kansas Jayhawks: Four Unbelievable Facts from the Bill Self Era

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