Kansas basketball: Previewing the Jayhawks’ road through the Midwest Region

Remy Martin and the Jayhawks' role players will need to step up against Iowa State tonight with Ochai Agbaji ruled out (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Remy Martin and the Jayhawks' role players will need to step up against Iowa State tonight with Ochai Agbaji ruled out (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

As another March full of basketball gets ready to begin, the stage is set with 68 teams trying to make a push to New Orleans.

KU will face Texas No. 16 Texas Southern in the last time slot of the tournament’s first day of action. The Tigers are 19-12 and make their appearance from the Southwest Athletic Conference.

While every game should be a tough out, the Midwest region has been dubbed by many fans and national pundits to be the “weakest” region.

Round of 32: No. 1 KU vs. No. 8 San Diego State/No. 9 Creighton

History says KU will get past the Tigers, but after that would come a test against the San Diego State Aztecs or Creighton Bluejays. The Round of 32 can be a trap game with talented teams making a push against the top seed – and this one will be no different.

Based on ratings, Kansas should “root” for Creighton (ranked No. 53 per KenPom) compared to San Diego State (ranked No. 22 per KenPom). However, either winner will present a strong matchup for KU.

David McCormack will have to be strong in that game – regardless of the opponent – as Creighton touts 7-foot-1 Ryan Kalkbrenner and SDSU has 6-foot-10 Nathan Mensah.

If KU is dialed in defensively, it could prove to be too much against either team’s already-low offensive outputs. SDSU averages 65.3 points per game while Creighton averages 69.0. Assuming the Jayhawks can hit their 78.6 average while holding their opponent to theirs, they should advance.

Sweet 16: No. 1 KU vs. No. 4 Providence/No. 5 Iowa/No. 12 Richmond/No. 13 South Dakota State

By far the popular vote for this matchup is KU vs the Iowa Hawkeyes, who finished fourth in the Big Ten. This game would be a battle of offenses as Iowa averages 83 points per game, led by 6-foot-8 forward Keegan Murray and his 23.6 points per game.

Providence is viewed as the “worst” No. 4 seed, so there’s thought they would lose to Iowa – assuming they get past South Dakota State. Which will certainly be no easy feat, as some are claiming the Jackrabbits to be the dark horse of the tournament.

If the Jayhawks get past the first weekend, they would have an entire week to prepare for their Sweet 16 opponent. This time would be crucial, especially if they have to face Iowa and Murray to get to the  Elite Eight. Expect a battle if it comes down to the Hawkeyes and Jayhawks, with the Jayhawks pulling off a close one.

Hot. Kansas raises ceiling heading into NCAA Tournament. light

Elite EightNo. 1 KU vs No. 2 Auburn

A rematch and attempt to avenge the beatdown the Tigers gave the Jayhawks a few years back seems irresistible for KU – and nerve wracking for their fans.

Auburn would without a doubt give KU a run for it’s money if that’s how the tournament plays out. Bruce Pearl would have his team playing tough, even if they enter the tournament in a bit of a slump.

However, Kansas should feel fairly decent about their spot. If they play to their ceiling – which Remy Martin is helping them do – they should find themselves in a favorable spot.

This is what players come to Kansas to play for and nobody is shying away from it.

With no shortage of reviews and analysis as we lead up to tipoff, it ultimately won’t matter what any national experts say. “March Madness” has been given it’s name for a reason, and it certainly shouldn’t disappoint this year.