Kansas draws 4-seed, Northeastern in NCAA first round

Florence Fletcher
March 22, 2019

On Monday, Wooden Award officials sent voters a link to the final ballot for the most prestigious honor in college basketball. Screams of joy and agony will erupt from living rooms and break rooms everywhere. Every tournament, every team - whether sleeper or favorite - and every potential path to the NCAA championship is different.

Regardless of which team is now on top, one thing's for sure - this year's tournament will be one for the books.

Williamson is the favorite to become just the second freshman to win the Naismith Award and go on to become the No. 1 pick. Without Williamson, who is often a one-man fast break, the Blue Devils were forced into more half-court sets, where possessions often stalled into mediocre 3-point looks.

I was on the fringe about the Horned Frogs, but this was a tough blow after seeing a few surprising teams get the nod over them.

During the Blue Devils' ACC tournament run-which featured victories against Syracuse, No. 3 North Carolina and No. 10 Florida State-they knocked down just 24.6 percent of their 3-point attempts on their way to the conference title.

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North Carolina won it all in 2017 and came up just short in 2016.

That showed past year in the unprecedented UMBC loss, a game in which the Cavaliers fell further and further behind as history unfolded. They're an incredibly slow-paced team that will have to rely exclusively on a hot shooting day to hang. Williamson's teammates should take comfort from knowing that six victories would surely ensue if they ensure the big fella consistently satisfies his hunger with scoring opportunities. The Cavaliers find themselves in a bracket with Tennessee, which was the nation's top-ranked team for almost a month with the Vols hoping for a No. 1 seed until being routed in the Southeastern Conference tournament final Sunday.

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John Calipari and the Wildcats don't need any introduction. All told, Kansas's 33-percent chance to get to the Sweet 16 is significantly lower than the 48 percent of the public that is picking them to get there.

This year's team plays similarly with a style that can reduce its margin for error. Sure enough, for the second time in three years, they did win the ACC tourney.

If they struggle for stops and get behind, it can be hard to reverse momentum with fewer possessions to work with thanks to their pace - illustrated in Friday's loss to Florida State in the ACC Tournament semifinals.

On the one hand, it's easy to look at a 17-15 record and argue that it makes sense for the Indiana Hoosiers to be on the outside looking in.

There are generally between 10 and 16 upsets per tournament. The Runnin' Bulldogs are led by senior guard David Efianayi, who averages 18.4 points per game.

Moreover, Seton Hall is battle-tested. Notre Dame, 30-3, is the defending national champion. Maybe a rematch with No.2 Kentucky is in store.

University of Minnesota. OK, they aren't really a Cinderella team.

IN THE NORTH: The Final Four is in Minneapolis this year, and Duke can hope that's a good sign. The Golden Gophers take on the Louisville Cardinals Thursday at 11:15 a.m.

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