The top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks will face former coach Roy Williams and the No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels on Sunday in the South region Round of 32. This will mark the second-straight year the two teams meet in the tournament. Kansas advanced to the Final Four in 2012 with an Elite Eight victory over UNC.
Last year, it was the No. 2 Jayhawks taking down No. 1 North Carolina, but the Tar Heels enter as the underdog this time. North Carolina got by Villanova in their first tournament game with the help of 23 points and five three-pointers from P.J. Hairston. He and Reggie Bullock will be key against Kansas as their outside shooting will be needed against a stout Jayhawk interior that led the nation in two-point defense. UNC's James Michael-McAdoo will have his hands full against seven-footer Jeff Withey.
Kansas defeated No. 16 Western Kentucky in a tighter-than-expected initial game. Withey proved to be the difference with 17 points, seven blocks, and six rebounds. The Jayhawks will need more from Ben McLemore against North Carolina. The redshirt freshman was held to just 11 points on three field-goal attempts against the Hilltoppers after being the focal point of KU's offense in the regular season.
McLemore is a threat inside and out, as he has hit 44 percent from three and 56 percent from two. Western Kentucky did well in limiting him from getting shots, and North Carolina would be served well to duplicate that strategy.
Those hoping for an upset should look at UNC's ability to force turnovers and limit free throw attempts. The Jayhawks have been turnover-prone, and they gave it away on 25 percent of possessions against WKU. Kansas also draws much of its efficiency from the free throw line, and UNC was 16th-best nationally at defensive free throws per field goal attempt. If the Tar Heels can turn the Jayhawks over and prevent them from getting easy points at the line, they stand a good chance of advancing.
The Jayhawks aren't likely to let that happen in large part because of their defense. Opponents have posted just a 41.3 effective field goal percentage against Kansas, giving them the best shooting defense in the country. Much of that stems from the 18 percent of two-pointers that the Jayhawks block. If Kansas plays to its potential defensively, then it has a good shot at getting past North Carolina.
Game time, TV: 5:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Location: Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo.