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Elite 8 Preview: Kansas vs. Virginia Commonwealth

Mar 27, 2011, 8:00 AM EST

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No. 1 Kansas (35-2) vs. No. 11 VCU (27-11)

Tip-off: 2:20 p.m. ET, CBS

At stake: Kansas is both poised and in great position to win their second national championship in four seasons, and they’re certainly the favorite to cut down the nets. If they are to lose, the stage is set for one of the most improbable Final Four match-ups in history, as VCU from the CAA would advance to play Butler from the Horizon League. The field continues to open up with each passing upset. If the Jayhawks are stunned, just who becomes the favorite to win in Houston?

Kansas wins if: They play basketball like they know how to play basketball. Let’s be honest, they probably don’t even have to play their best to win this afternoon, but they will have to ensure their perimeter defense is buttoned up. The Rams are shooting 47 percent from beyond the arc this tournament, and it’s accounted for 41 percent of their scoring. I expect the Jayhawks to get their own points, but it will be interesting to see how long VCU can match their output.

VCU wins if: Plain and simple, the Rams need to shoot above 50 percent from three-point land; 47 percent doesn’t cut it it. The three-point shot has been, for the most part, what’s carried them this far. And against a juggernaut like Kansas it will have to continue – and likely even improve – for them to shock the world.

Key matchup: Kansas’ Bigs vs. VCU’s Guards – It’s a match-up that resembles quarterback vs. quarterback, Larry vs. Magic when they were on opposite coasts, myself against all my ex-girlfriends as we look to one-up each other in life.  The Jayhawks frontcourt isnt actually going toe-to-toe against the Rams backcourt, but the production of both groups of players here will dictate how this game plays out. If the Morris twins are getting points and rebounds, that probably means Bradford Burgess and Brandon Rozzell aren’t stroking it early and often.

X-factor: Shaka Smart – Also known as Shaka Flocka Flame (look it up if you’re over the age of 30), Smart is just that, and has to have something up his sleeve to keep this game close.

Winner: Kansas, because Corporate America doesn’t root for two mid-majors to square off in the Final Four.