Game 35: No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 16 Penn – Preview and Prediction

Kansas opens up the NCAA Tournament on Thursday afternoon against Ivy League Champ; the Penn Quakers.

About Penn: Since Selection Sunday we’ve been hearing about how if there is going to be a 16 to beat a 1, it is going to be Penn. The metrics do say that Penn is the toughest 16 seed in this year’s tournament, and according to KenPom they are the highest rated 16 seed in the last six seasons. The are going to want to shoot the three and shoot it often. The Quakers take 42.3% of their shots from three-point land this season, which is tied for 68th nationally. While they do shoot a good amount of threes, they don’t shoot them efficiently. They shoot 35% from beyond the arc, which sits pretty middle of the pack nationally (181st). Compare that to the Jayhawks, who shoot 41.6 of their shots from distance, but they make 40% of those shots. Ryan Betley leads the Quakers at 14.1 PPG.

Game Info and Notes:

  • Thursday, March 15th at 1:00 pm CT
  • Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Ks.
  • TBS or March Madness App
  • KU is 103-45 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. 35-12 as No. 1 seed. 30-2 in the round of 64.
  • Kansas is making its 47th NCAA Tournament appearance and has a 103-45 record in the event. The Jayhawks have advanced to 30 Sweet 16 contests, 14 Final Fours and three of their five national championships have been in NCAA Championship format (1952, 1988, 2008).
  • Kansas’ 29-consecutive NCAA Championship appearances, beginning in 1990, is the active longest streak and the longest consecutive in NCAA tourney appearances history.
  • Since seeding in the NCAA Tournament began in 1979, Kansas has been a No. 1 seed 14 times, including each of the last three seasons (‘86, ‘92, ‘95, ‘97, ‘98, ‘02, ‘07, ‘08, ‘10, ‘11, ‘13, ‘16, ‘17 and ‘18).
  • Senior G Devonte’ Graham, the 2018 Big 12 Player of the Year, is the only player in NCAA Division I averaging 17.0-plus points, 7.0-plus assists, 1.6-plus steals and fewer than 3.0 turnovers per game. Graham is third nationally in assists per game at 7.5.
  • This is the ninth-straight season that the Jayhawks have earned a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. In head coach Bill Self’s 15 seasons, KU has never been seeded lower than a four seed.
  • Kansas won its NCAA-record breaking 14th straight, 18th Big 12 and NCAA-leading 61st overall conference regular-season title in 2017-18.
Wildcats to Watch

Ryan Betley – 6’5″ sophomore, guard

Betley is the Quakers leading scorer at 14.5 PPG. He can certainly fill it up, as he has had eight 20 point games this year including a 30-point performance against Harvard two weeks ago. He also chips in with 4.9 RPG, which ranks third on the team. One thing about Betley is if he’s not hitting the three, he can go quiet. 61% of his shots this season have been three-point shots this season.

A.J. Brodeur – 6’8” sophomore, forward

Brodeur is really the only post threat for the Quakers. This season he’s averaging 13.1 PPG and 7.1 RPG. Just over half of his shots come at the rim. It will be interesting to see how he deals with the length and size of Mitch Lightfoot, Silvio De Sousa and potentially Udoka Azubuike.

Darnell Foreman – 6’1″ senior, point guard

As the point guard of the Quakers, Foreman makes this team go. He leads the team in assists with 3.6 APG. He also aids that stat with 10.6 PPG and 4.5 RPG. He does a little bit of everything. At 28% from the outside he’s not going to kill you with the jump shot, although he is coming off a 3-5 performance in the Ivy League Championship Game, which is one of his best shooting displays this season.

Prediction

Kansas 84 – Penn 65

Penn very well might be the highest rated 16 seed in the last six seasons, but even so, a 16 has still never beat a 1 and I don’t see it happening tomorrow. Kansas will have to play its C- games and Penn will have to play its A game for it to happen. Penn would need a lights-out performance from deep, but I don’t think they have enough shooters to do that and also Kansas has defending the three-point line this season, allowing opponents to shoot 32% from range and 25% over the last three games.

We saw Devonte’ Graham absolutely take over against WVU in the second half and I don’t see Graham being denied right now. If he’s going be denied, it is going to be against like a team like Michigan State or Duke, not a Penn.

I expect the crowd to play a major factor. Heck, the Jayhawks packed the place for open practice on Wednesday. One would have to think it’ll be a similar turnout for the actual game on Thursday.

Bobby Norell

My name is Bobby Norell. I'm from a small town in northern Indiana. I recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Sport Communication. Even though my diploma says I'm a Hoosier, my love for the Jayhawks has never wavered. They'll always come No.1.