Kansas certainly is making a statement as a big player in the college basketball scene.
The brackets announced Sunday for the NCAA Tournament include teams from all three of the state’s largest public universities: Kansas University, Kansas State and Wichita State. The undefeated WSU Shockers are a No. 1 seed, and KU is close behind with a No. 2 seed. KSU enters the tournament as a No. 9 seed and would face Wichita in the second round if both teams win their first games.
If the traffic seems a little heavier than usual on Interstate 70 across Missouri later this week, it probably has something to do with all three Kansas teams playing their first games in St. Louis on Friday. Kansas fans alone should make sure there’s a full house for the Midwest and South regionals in St. Louis.
In addition to the Kansas basketball coup, the Big 12 Conference also made a significant claim on the distinction of being the nation’s most powerful basketball conference. Seven of the conference’s 10 teams are playing in the championship tournament, more than any other conference — including many larger conferences — in the country.
Some analysts picking apart the bracket assignments have said that KU’s South regional — with the nation’s top seed, Florida — is the toughest of the four. Many others, however, pointed to the Midwest, where Wichita is the top seed. The Shockers are undefeated, but some observers note the team hasn’t played many top-ranked teams. It almost looks as if the NCAA selection committee made sure that didn’t happen in the tournament by putting WSU in the same bracket with such traditional powerhouses as Michigan, Duke, Kentucky and Louisville.
The NCAA tournament has become a premiere athletic event for both college basketball players and spectators. The fact that one loss means the end to a team’s tournament run heightens the joy of victory and the agony of defeat. Teams know that every tournament has its upsets and seedings don’t always mean that much once the players take the court.
Kansas has a special basketball tradition and it’s great to see all three major university teams taking their place among the tournament field. We congratulate all three and wish them well.