Most observers will look at the #1 seeded Jayhawks and the #12 seeded Richmond Spiders and assume that this will be an easy win for the Jayhawks. There are also those who feel the Jayhawks may overlook the Spiders and be ripe for an upset. Either of those scenarios is certainly possible.
On paper, the Jayhawks have more talent. When it comes to the tournament, the team with the most talent doesn’t always win. The real key is getting that talent to focus on the task at hand and play well as a team. Of course, the underdog can also feel empowered and play well above their talent level would indicate.
Jayhawk fans know all too well about the unexpected loss to Northern Iowa in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. UNI was a veteran team that played a great game. The Jayhawks also seemed to take the game for granted which led to a flat performance. As most of the key performers played in the UNI game, they should realize that no team can be taken for granted at this point of the season.
There is another factor that may give the Jayhawks inspiration and it came before any of them put on a Kansas uniform. Richmond has played one previous game against Kansas and it was in 2004 at Allen Fieldhouse. They were a huge underdog and walked out of the Phog with a win. The Spiders played an amazing game that night and the Jayhawk players most likely overlooked them.
Bill Self has been at Kansas for eight seasons and has only lost seven home games. Most of the players on the current team experienced their only home loss this season when the Texas Longhorns came to Lawrence. The Jayhawks were exhausted that day after Thomas Robinson’s mom had died the evening before. When they met Texas again in the Big XII Tournament, the team was fired up for revenge.
With the loss to UNI in 2010 and the knowledge of Richmond winning at Allen Fieldhouse, the Jayhawks should have some revenge and redemption on their minds when they take the court Friday evening. While I expect Richmond to be a tough out, I think the Jayhawks will have enough fire to stomp out the Spiders and advance to the Elite Eight.