With Selection Sunday approaching, here’s what the experts project for KU basketball

photo by: AP Photo/Young Kwak

Fans arrive at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena before an NCAA college basketball game between Gonzaga and Kentucky, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, in Spokane, Wash.

The hours are ticking away until Sunday’s selection show. The two Kansas basketball teams will enter the NCAA Tournament heading in opposite directions — the KU men’s team slumping to a degree it rarely has this century, the KU women’s team having closed the season winning nine of its last 11 games and vaulting itself into postseason contention — but they will find out their fates all the same Sunday night.

Bill Self’s team is likely to enter March Madness as a No. 4 seed for just the fourth time since his arrival in 2003, after its worst conference record in decades, while Brandon Schneider’s squad is headed for the tournament for the second time in his tenure and has a chance to once again find itself in an 8-9 matchup.

The men’s selection show airs at 5 p.m. Central Time on CBS, while the women’s is two hours later on ESPN.

Here’s what experts are projecting for KU ahead of Selection Sunday.

Men’s basketball

The prospect of playing close to home in Omaha, Nebraska, has become less and less likely as the Jayhawks have faded down the stretch.

Instead, as of Saturday morning, both ESPN and CBS had them set for a rare first-weekend trip to the Northwest. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and CBS’ Jerry Palm — Palm took longer to move KU down from the No. 3 seed line and remove it from Omaha — are now both projecting the Jayhawks to play in Spokane, Washington, at a site hosted by the University of Idaho. KU has never visited either Spokane or the nearby state of Idaho and hasn’t played in Washington state since 1988.

Both sites have also placed the Jayhawks in the East Region (i.e. a second-weekend stop in Boston).

photo by: AP Photo/Mary Schwalm

Boston Celtics championship banners hang in the rafters at TD Garden during the first half of an NCAA men’s college basketball tournament regional semifinal Friday, March 23, 2018, in Boston.

The experts’ proposed groupings differ somewhat. ESPN and CBS pair KU with Lamont Paris’ resurgent South Carolina as a No. 5 seed. However, their No. 12 and No. 13 selections diverge.

ESPN’s first-round opponent for the Jayhawks is the College of Charleston, which won the Coastal Athletic Association in the regular season — and its tournament, surviving an upstart Stony Brook in overtime — for the second year in a row and is headed to a second NCAA Tournament. The Cougars are led by guard Reyne Smith, a graduate of the Australian Centre of Excellence who has made more than 100 3-pointers this year on 39.5% shooting and averages a team-high 12.8 points per game, and 6-foot-10 forward Ante Brzovic, who scores 12.3 points with 6.3 rebounds.

CBS, meanwhile, pits KU against another mid-major power in Vermont, which has now won the America East Conference regular-season crown for eight straight years under longtime coach John Becker. It only lost one game in league play this year. The Catamounts have a top-10 scoring defense nationwide at 63.0 points per game, while also committing fewer turnovers than almost anybody else. Their offense is well rounded with six players averaging at least 7.7 points per game, led by Fairfield transfer TJ Long’s 12.2.

photo by: AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Vermont head coach John Becker questions a call in the first half of a first-round college basketball game against Marquette in the men’s NCAA Tournament in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, March 17, 2023.

photo by: AP Photo/Terrance Williams

Charleston guard Reyne Smith (2) drives to the basket during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the championship of the Colonial Athletic Association conference tournament against Stony Brook, Tuesday, March 12, 2024, in Washington.

Elsewhere in Spokane, ESPN had South Carolina facing Princeton, a Cinderella story last year as a No. 15 seed when it beat Arizona and Missouri; however, the Tigers suffered an upset loss to Brown in Ivy Madness on Saturday afternoon. In CBS’ bracket South Carolina would take on VCU, a school that might bring up unfortunate memories for KU fans of Shaka Smart, Jamie Skeen and the 2011 Elite Eight in San Antonio.

photo by: AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr.

South Carolina coach Lamont Paris gestures to players during the second half of the team’s NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in Columbia, S.C.

Women’s basketball

Kansas and Nebraska seem almost inexorably drawn to each other in women’s basketball.

Even though they no longer share a conference, they could be playing for the fourth time in two years if ESPN’s Charlie Creme is correct. Creme currently has No. 8 Nebraska and No. 9 Kansas facing off in Columbia, South Carolina, as part of one of the Albany regionals.

KU has won two of those last three meetings, including once in last year’s Women’s National Invitation Tournament and once on Dec. 20 when the Cornhuskers shot 28.8% from the field, Zakiyah Franklin had a team-high 16 points and the Jayhawks won 69-52.

photo by: Mike Gunnoe/Special to the Journal-World

Kansas center Taiyanna Jackson is fouled as she goes up for a shot Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023, against Nebraska in Lawrence.

No team has played Nebraska more often than Kansas has.

The winner would then have the unenviable task of facing, barring a 16-over-1 upset (which has happened just once in women’s basketball), Dawn Staley’s unbeaten No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks and their 6-foot-7 center Kamilla Cardoso. Last time KU made the tournament it topped Georgia Tech in the first round but didn’t have enough gas in the tank to beat Stanford, after keeping it close for two quarters.

photo by: AP Photo/Nell Redmond

South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso (10) drives against Tennessee forward Rickea Jackson during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Columbia, S.C., Sunday, March 3, 2024.

The Jayhawks actually upset South Carolina in Colorado in the 2013 NCAA Tournament to make it to the Sweet 16.

CBS’ women’s bracketology does not produce a full bracket but does have KU as a No. 9 seed. HerHoopStats isn’t quite as high on the Jayhawks and has them as a No. 10 seed, also in Albany, but facing No. 7 Duke in the UCLA-hosted portion of the bracket. After an up-and-down conference schedule, the Blue Devils lost to NC State in the second round of their conference tournament.