Kansas women's basketball team won on the road in the first round of last season's NCAA Tournament, then traveled halfway across the country to play Penn State.
The '94 tournament produced a victory at Stephen F. Austin and a loss to the Nittany Lions. This weekend's assignment may not be quite as daunting. But it still qualifies as reasonably rugged.
From the Jayhawks' perspective, however, at least they'll play one game on a neutral court. Tonight's NCAA contest against Wisconsin will be played at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas. Tipoff is 6 p.m.
"I think it's a first step," Kansas coach Marian Washington said about the change in this year's tournament format.
Last year, the top eight seeds in each region played host to first-round games, then the highest-seeded winners were hosts for the second round.
This year, four teams will gather at the homes of the top four seeds in each region for first- and second-round games.
"I think it's a very positive first step," Washington said, "but it won't be right until we get every team in a neutral situation."
The Jayhawks certainly won't be in a neutral situation if they win tonight along with Texas Tech.
Texas Tech (30-3), the Mideast's No. 2 seed, will meet Tulane (19-9) in the second game of tonight's doubleheader at Lubbock. Tonight's winners will meet at 2 p.m. Saturday at Lubbock.
"If you look at the 16 sites," Washington said, "you will probably find some things in common, and that is their ability to draw. I assure you Texas Tech will draw.
"The disadvantage is we still have a home team involved," Washington said. "But the plus is that it will be a great environment for women's basketball."
In that environment, senior Angela Aycock could become only the third player in KU history to score at least 2,000 career points. A 6-2 guard/forward, Aycock currently has 1,962 points. She needs 38 to join Lynette Woodard and Adrian Mitchell in KU's 2,000-point club.
"If it happens, we'll all be happy for her," Washington said. "The main thing is to have a chance to get beyond that first game."
Wisconsin will be without freshman Ann Klapperich tonight. Klapperich, a 6-2 forward who is averaging 9.9 points and 5.8 rebounds, is out becaue of mononucleosis.
Kansas is one of four Big Eight teams involved in NCAA play. Colorado received a No. 1 seeding in the Midwest, Oklahoma is No. 7 in the East and Oklahoma State is No. 12 in the East.
"We deserve four," Washington said. "When you look at the strength of our conference, I expected the Big Eight to get four teams in. I would have been very disappointed if we had not had four."
Kansas takes a 20-10 record into tonight's game. Wisconsin is 19-8, a big step from last year's 13-14 record.
"We're in it," Wisconsin coach Jane Albright-Dieterle said. "If you had told anyone in this room a year ago that we were going to be in the tournament in a year, they would have thought it was a little strange."