Bill Self’s past helps him try to brace Kansas against first-round farewell

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Sports

March 21, 2019 - 10:22 AM

Kansas head coach Bill Self calls out to his team in the first half against Villanova during an NCAA Tournament national semifinal on March 31, 2018, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Travis Heying/Wichita Eagle/TNS

SALT LAKE CITY — From about the instant Kansas was assigned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional and aligned with Northeastern for its first-round game on Thursday at Vivint Smart Home Arena, Kansas became a fashionable upset candidate.

The ever-astute likes of ESPN analyst Jay Bilas (“Kansas may not get past Northeastern,” he said during the bracket selection show) and the Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy (Northeastern is his sleeper pick for the region) questioned taking a KU win for granted, and basketball pundits from around the nation have scrawled in a Kansas loss.

And it’s natural enough to scoff at a team that took a long time to meld, suffered lapses even since seeming to coalesce (see: Texas Tech and Oklahoma in the last month and Iowa State in the last game), will start five players who’ve never played in an NCAA Tournament … and will be matched against a veteran team that specializes in one of Kansas’ vulnerabilities, the three-point game.

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