Mar 23, 2012, 4:17 PM EDT
Kansas spent the last two NCAA tournaments heading home early. Nearly every crucial player on the Jayhawks were part of losses to 8-seed Northern Iowa (2010) and 11-seed VCU (2011).
It’s doubtful Kansas, the Midwest’s No. 2 seed, is overlooking N.C. State just because the Wolfpack are an 11 seed. Not this season.
“You can’t think of seeds,” wing Connor Teahan said. “Obviously the last two years the way we’ve been knocked out – what was VCU last year?”
Teahan is the last player still around from Kansas’ 2008 title team. The following years, the Jayhawks finished the regular season with 32 victories and No. 1 seeds. This year’s group didn’t boast the same depth, but was nearly as successful, entering the Big Dance 27-6 and another Big 12 title under its belt.
But it’s dying to return to the Final Four. Overlooking a team at this point is not an option.
“I feel we’re excited and ready,” center Jeff Withey told the Lawrence Journal-World. “I feel the last two years we let ourselves down. There is a chip on our shoulders because we were favored two years in a row. To lose last year in the Elite Eight, and the year before we didn’t make it past the first week … we definitely want to win. A lot of people didn’t pick us to be here this year. It helps us being under the radar. We all love each other on this team and enjoy playing together. I think when we come out with energy we are tough to beat, and that will be the case (against N.C. State).”
To do that, Kansas (29-6) can’t afford to have Thomas Robinson be a non-factor on offense and will be wary of the balance and athleticism from the Wolfpack (24-12). For more on the game’s outlook, click here.
Tip-off is 10:17 p.m. ET.
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.
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