By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
KU gets No. 1 seed in Southwest
Jayhawks vividly recollect last year's upset
KU celebrates
The Kansas Jayhawks celebrate on Saturday after beating Texas in the Big 12 championship game at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. KU is a No. 1 seed in the Southwest Regional of the NCAA Tournament and will play Boston University on Thursday in the opening round. - photo by The Associated Press


LAWRENCE — Without dwelling on history, Kansas is determined to draw from the lessons of its recent painful past.

The Jayhawks (32-2) were selected as the No. 1 seed in the Southwest Region on Sunday, paired against America East champion Boston University in the first round on Friday in Tulsa. But instead of puffing out their chests and making Final Four plans, they're remembering a year ago.

They were the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, also with a 32-2 record. But they lost 69-67 in the second round to upstart Northern Iowa, a No. 9 seed, in an upset that's stuck in their craws ever since.

"I think it could be a motivating factor for anybody," said senior guard Brady Morningstar, who helped lead the Jayhawks to both the regular-season and tournament championships of the Big 12. "I've been at the highest highs and the lowest lows here at Kansas. The experience will help and we are excited to get it going."

Coach Bill Self is glad his players understand that even big favorites sometimes make early exits.

"You don't want to dwell in the negative," Self said. "And in athletics, sometimes you try real hard and you get beat. We're not going to be the only team in the history of the tournament that flames out in the second round. But unfortunately, we're the last one that's done it. I think our guys will use that as a reason for them to be more focused. I really do."

For the Jayhawks, there are some interesting potential matchups in the Southwest. One could come in their second game against Illinois. Self had three successful seasons coaching the Illini and made a lot of fans there very unhappy in 2004 when he left for Kansas. The Illini play a first-round game against UNLV and another of their former coaches, Lon Kruger, in an 8 vs. 9 matchup in the first round.

"I think it will be a hard game if we advance regardless if we play Illinois or UNLV," Self said. "But it is interesting — Lon playing Illinois, and then the winner of that game if we advance, playing a guy who used to coach at Illinois as well."

The No. 2 seed in the Southwest is Notre Dame, which Self thought could easily have been a No. 1. Other possible stumbling blocks as the Jayhawks look to make the Final Four for the second time in four years include Purdue (25-7) and Louisville (25-9).

"I definitely think it's a tough bracket," senior guard Tyrel Reed said. "At this time of year, everybody is good. You can't really worry about your matchups. You've just got to go out and play."

Beginning the tournament in Tulsa is a good draw for Kansas. It's not a long drive for fans and it's where Self, an Oklahoma native, began his coaching career with successful stints at Oral Roberts and Tulsa University.

"I was fortunate that it worked out well at both places," he said. "I don't think it will be a trip down Memory Lane by any stretch, but I think it will be pretty cool to play there."

While laying a convincing 85-73 beating on No. 10 Texas on Saturday in the Big 12 championship game and avenging one of their two losses, the Jayhawks played about as well as they've played all year. Now the trick will be sustaining the momentum for, as Self puts it, three two-game tournaments.

"Our guys worked their tails off and this is the culmination of those efforts," he said. "Now, to me, you put yourself in a good position just like the other teams have by working their tails off and being in the tournament. Now you've got to go make the most of that opportunity. I think that's what our guys are looking forward to most, especially after last year when we didn't do that."