South - No. 2 Kansas vs. No. 15 Eastern Kent.
Posted Mar 16, 2014

2014 NCAA Tournament Preview, Breakdown & Pick: South Region – No. 2 Kansas vs. No. 15 Eastern Kentucky

Line: Kansas -15
Why To Pick Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels might not have the talent to compete with Kansas, but they'll be very, very pesky. They're fantastic at forcing mistakes and ramping up the pressure, and they're full of sharpshooters from the outside. It's a dangerous enough team to keep this close and give Bill Self's team a massive scare.
Why To Pick Kansas: There's absolutely no Eastern Kentucky interior presence whatsoever. If there was ever a team to play against without Joel Embiid, EKU is it. Kansas is sixth in the nation in shooting percentage – granted, Embiid has a lot to do with that – and EKU is 333rd in field goal percentage defense. Uh oh.
The Pick: Kansas 84-60. It'll take a little while, but one big run from the Jayhawks will end the threat midway through the second half.

Kansas Jayhawks
Head coach: Bill Self Record: 24-9 Conference: Big 12

What You Need To Know: The Jayhawks can be dominant at times, but they also can look vulnerable – and puzzling. Bill Self's team is blessed with great talent, but all the skill and all the NBA prospects don't always play together for a full 40 minutes, leaving KU struggling for long stretches. Guard Andrew Wiggins is an electric scorer with a combination of size and skills that make him a difficult matchup for every guard his faces. He can slash to the basket, he's just a good enough outside shooter to keep opponents from packing the lane and he has a swagger that makes him want the ball with the game on the line. Wiggins is special, but the Jayhawks are at their best when he's just a piece of the puzzle. Perry Ellis is another quality scorer and rebounder who benefits from the attention paid to Wiggins, and Wayne Selden, Jr., can score inside and out. Naadir Tharpe is a fantastic passer in transition, but KU's hopes may rest on the back of center Joel Embiid. He has been fighting a fracture in his spine and is expected to miss at least the first week of the tournament. If he's out longer, Kansas will desperately miss his game-altering presence in the paint.
Strengths: Rebounding, Shooting Inside The Arc, Scoring
Weaknesses: Steals, Turnovers, Three Point Shooting
How Far Will They Go?: It all depends on Joel Embiid. The Jayhawks can get through the first weekend without their star, but they need him to get to the Final Four. The educated guess? He'll be back just in time to save the day against Florida to get to Dallas.

Eastern Kentucky Colonels
Head coach: Jeff Neubauer Record: 24-9 Conference: Ohio Valley

What You Need To Know: One of the best shooting teams in the tournament, the Colonels put points on the board in a hurry. They can push the tempo, but O isn't loose with the ball and are smart enough to pull back on the reins when they don't have numbers. Senior guard Glenn Cosey is the catalyst, averaging 18.8 points a night and knocking down 42.5 percent of his shots from beyond the arc, but he's also a fantastic passer who boasts a 2-to-1 assists-to-turnover ratio. Corey Walden provides some balance in the backcourt and keeps opponents from concentrating on Cosey, and the trio of Marcus Lewis, Orlando Williams and Tarius Johnson all are confident with the basketball and won't shy away from taking an open shot.
Strengths: Scoring, Turnover Margin, Steals
Weaknesses: Blocked Shots, Rebounding, Field Goal Percentage Defense
How Far Will They Go?: There's a good chance the Colonels could make things interesting, but forget about getting by the Jayhawks.