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NCAA Tournament Round 2 Preview: #1 Kansas vs. #8 UNLV

#8 (27-7) #1 (32-3)

Qwest Cente Omaha, Nebraska 6:50PM ET TV:

This Saturday matchup will be very difficult for the Rebels to make a repeat appearance to the sweet 16, because they are facing #1 seed Kansas. UNLV started off round one by easily defeating Kent State 85-61 while Kansas throttled Portland State 85-61.

Kansas tied Texas for the Big XII regular season title then went on to win the conference tournament to get the automatic bid from that conference. Kansas has only lost 3 games all year and all were on the road during a mini slump, but they piked it up to round out the year. Kansas’ main players are Darrell Arthur, Brandon Rush, and Mario Chalmers who all average at least 12 points per game plus there is Darnell Jackson who scores 11 per game. It is safe to say that the scoring is very balanced on this team with these 4 in double figures and then 3 others who score at least 7 a game. UNLV’s defense will need to be extra stingy to try to slow down some of the Jayhawks scorers. Kansas lead the Big XII in nearly every major category or was at worst third, so this will be challenge to the Rebels. UNLV does have coaching experience that is similar to Kansas as well with some of the players. UNLV needs to play a game like they did on Thursday with great outside shooting and stifling defense. Kansas can score in bunches and even in the stacked Big XII they scored 80 per game. Kansas most likely will win, because of their offensive explosiveness and not to mention the proximity to Lawerence. Vegas will win if they play perfect or near perfect, by making three pointers, limiting turnovers, and also by bringing the pressure against Kansas defensively.

Read more for ESPN.com’s take on Kansas

The Jayhawks have played solidly throughout the season, cruising to a share of their eighth Big 12 regular-season title. Previous recent struggles in the NCAA tournament have made coach Bill Self wanting more (like his elusive first trip to the Final Four with the Jayhawks).

Kansas streaked to a 20-game winning streak to start the season, but then struggled through a swoon that saw it lose three of its next seven games. But the Jayhawks finished the regular season with a flourish, claiming four straight victories.

A talented, deep roster enables the Jayhawks to overwhelm most opponents. They lead the nation in scoring margin (21 ppg) and the Big 12 in scoring offense, scoring defense, blocked shots, steals, assists, field-goal percentage and defensive field-goal percentage.
When Kansas is playing well, it gets contributions throughout the lineup. Leading scorer Darrell Arthur (13.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg) is a beast inside, but he struggles to stay out of foul trouble. G Brandon Rush (12.3 ppg) was hampered with injuries early in the season but appears to be rounding into form over Kansas’ final few games. His return gives KU a consistent offensive threat.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Jayhawks make a run to San Antonio. But to get there, they must play well against physical, defensive teams that can sometimes prove vexing on the perimeter.

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