Bill Self knows Kansas isn’t facing a typical No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament this year.
The Jayhawks face Ivy League champion Penn on Thursday afternoon, but the Quakers are a much better team than the usual No. 16 seed. They ranked No. 127 in the KenPom rankings, making them the highest-ranked 16-seed since 2012. Penn coach Steve Donahue also has experience against the Jayhawks. He previously coached at Cornell, and his Big Red team played a very close game against Kansas in 2010.
Self said on ESPN’s Golic & Wingo on Tuesday morning that his team knows this won’t be an easy matchup. He specifically pointed to the Quakers’ ability to limit 3-pointers as a problem for his team.
“I was flipping channels and somebody told us that was the closest matchup of a 1-16, maybe of all time. At least [that’s] what the oddsmakers think. So we know we have our hands full,” Self said. “Just like Steve’s teams at Cornell, they can all shoot. They can all pass. They’ve got a counter for however you guard their stuff. And their defense is good. They’re physical, and they don’t let you make 3’s. So something’s got to give, because we kind of live and die by that.”
Self also admitted that when his team has been a No. 1 seed in previous years, he and his players have allowed themselves to look ahead to the second round. He said that isn’t the case this year.
“We do feel like we drew somebody in the first round that is certainly very capable of having success against us” Self said. “And they definitely have our guys’ attention. From that standpoint, that should be a positive. But a lot of times, you’re a 1-seed, you immediately look to that 8-9 game. … But this is a game that, hey, I’m not looking at that 8-9 game as much. I’m focused on Penn, without question.”
The Jayhawks and Quakers will face off in Wichita on Thursday at 2 p.m. ET.
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