Who’s who in the Wichita region for March Madness

Here's a look at the eight teams playing in Wichita.

Intrust+Bank+Arena+all+done+up+for+March+Madness.
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Who’s who in the Wichita region for March Madness

Intrust Bank Arena all done up for March Madness.

Intrust Bank Arena all done up for March Madness.

Brian Hayes

Intrust Bank Arena all done up for March Madness.

Brian Hayes

Brian Hayes

Intrust Bank Arena all done up for March Madness.

The Kansas Jayhawks, the No. 1 seed in the Midwest region, are heading South for the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

The Jayhawks headline the eight teams selected to play in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament in Wichita with games starting Friday. Kansas plays No. 16 seed Penn in the location’s first game, which will tip at approximately 1 p.m. Thursday.

Kansas is joined by three opponents in the Midwest region, and Michigan headlines the four teams from the West region selected to play in Wichita.

Wichita is hosting the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1994 when the games were played at the Kansas Coliseum.

Wichita State regularly hosted tournament games at the on-campus arena in 1956, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1978 and 1981. Wichita State was also announced to be a site location for the 2021 NCAA Tournament’s first and second rounds.

Of the four teams selected for the Midwest region, the winner from Wichita will advance to the regional semifinals played in Omaha, Nebraska; the winner among the West region representatives playing in Wichita will advance to the regional semifinals in Los Angeles.


 

Team breakdown

Midwest region:

No. 1 Kansas

Kansas secured the No. 1 seed — their third consecutive year receiving a No. 1 seed — in the Midwest after winning the Big 12 Conference for the 14th consecutive year — an NCAA record — and toppling West Virginia in the championship of the Big 12 Conference Tournament.

Kansas waltzed past Oklahoma State, Kansas State, and West Virginia en route to the Big 12 Conference Tournament title without the help of leading rebounder and fourth-leading scorer Udoka Azubuike. Azubuike, a 7-foot center, leads the country in two-point shot percentage, where he boasts over 77 percent shooting.

The Jayhawks expect to have Azubuike back for the first round game against Penn. Devonte’ Graham, a senior, was named the Big 12’s Player of the Year after he led the Jayhawks in scoring, while shooting over 41 percent from three and averaging 17.3 points per game. Kansas finished the season with a 27-7 record (four home losses) and is ranked No. 7 by KenPom.com. Under Pomeroy’s metrics, the Jayhawks have the sixth-best offense and the 46th-best defense. They played the sixth-best strength of schedule in the country.

Key contributors:

Devonte’ Graham — 17.3 ppg, 7.5 apg, 41.2 percent 3-point

Sviatoslav Mykhailuk — 15 ppg, 4 rpg, 45.3 percent 3-point

Udoka Azubuike — 13.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 77.3 percent field goal

 

No. 16 Penn

Pennsylvania return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007.

The Quakers (24-8) claimed an automatic bid into the tournament after winning the Ivy League tournament. Penn hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 1994. Since 1980, the Quakers have a 1-14 record in the tournament.

Penn has four double-digit scorers, led by 6-5 guard Ryan Betley who shoots 38.8 percent from three-point range, leading him to 14.4 points per game. The Quakers tend to play small-ball, with three guard rotations in the majority of their sets. The tallest player in their starting rotation is 6-8 forward A.J. Brodeur, who averages 13 points and seven rebounds per game.

Penn played the 271st strength of schedule, and against that competition, they combined for the 73rd-best defense and 205th-best offense under KenPom’s metrics.

Key contributors:

Ryan Betley — 14.4 ppg, 5 rpg, 38.8 percent 3-point

A.J. Brodeur — 13 ppg, 7 rpg, 54 percent field goal

Max Rothschild — 8 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.3 apg


 

No. 8 Seton Hall

Seton Hall made a quick exit in the Big East Conference tournament losing to Butler by a point.

Senior Angel Delgado has the Pirates in the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive year. Last year, the Pirates fell to No. 8 seed Arkansas in the first round of the tournament; the year before the Pirates also made a first-round exit to No. 11 seed Gonzaga.

Delgado figured to be playing in the NBA by now, but the 6-10, 245-lb center returned the the Pirates to average a double-double for a team that finished 21-11 in the third-best conference in the country.

Seton Hall ranks the 58th-best defense and 26th-best offense in the country. They rallied two five-game winning streaks that included games against Texas Tech, Louisville, Butler, and Creighton before suffering a four-game losing streak in February. They ended February with a one-point overtime loss to Villanova at home.

Key contributors:

Angel Delgado — 13.3 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 2.7 apg

Desi Rodriguez — 17.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 50 percent field goal

Ismael Sanogo — 5.1 ppg, 54.3 percent field goal, 43.5 percent 3-point

 

No. 9 NC State

North Carolina State enters the NCAA Tournament a No. 9 seed after being upset in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament to Boston College.

The Wolfpack boast the No. 24 offense and the No. 99 defense under KenPom’s metrics. They claimed wins over Duke, Clemson, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Louisville. They were winners of five of their last six regular-season games.

Allerik Freeman, a 6-3 senior guard, leads with 15.4 points per game. Two forwards, Omer Yurtseven, 7-foot, and Torin Dorn, 6-5, each average more than six rebounds per game. Yurtseven averages more than 51.2 percent from three-point range.

Key contributors:

Allerik Freeman — 15.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.6 apg

Omer Yurtseven — 13.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.9 bpg

Torin Dorn — 13.8, 6.1 rpg, 53 percent field goal


 

West region:

No. 6 Houston

Houston enters the NCAA Tournament at the helm of point guard sensation Rob Gray.

Gray, who averages an AAC-best 18.6 points per game, scored 33 points as Houston sent Wichita State out in the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference tournament. The Cougars nearly stripped Cincinnati of the conference title in the rubber match, faltering a single point.

Houston ranks outside the top-300 teams in size, but falls inside the top 10 in the NCAA for rebounding.

Gray has done the impossible, scoring 30-plus in two of the Cougars’ last five games, and five times above the mark this season.

Houston marks the No. 18 defense and No. 31 offense in the country. They went 27-7, and finished tied for second in the AAC, both in the regular-season and conference tournament.

Key contributors:

Devin Davis — 10.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 50.2 percent field goal

Rob Gray — 18.6 ppg, 4.6 apg, 3.3 rpg

Corey Davis, Jr. — 10.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 43.7 3-point

 

No. 12 San Diego State

San Diego State enters the NCAA Tournament on a nine-game winning streak, including two signature wins over Nevada.

SDSU  hasn’t lost a game since Feb. 10. They earned an automatic bid into the tournament after winning the Mountain West Conference tournament.

SDSU boasts the No. 36 defense in the country, and the No. 69 best offense according to KenPom metrics. Malik Pope, a 6-10 senior forward, leads the Aztecs averaging 12.9 points per game. The Aztecs spread their scoring through a rotation that is frequently eight- and nine-men deep; five players all average double digits.

SDSU scores the majority of their points in the paint. Pope and six other Aztecs average more than 34 percent from three-point range; the team as a whole averages 35 percent from deep, good for 207th-best in the country. No player averages more than 39 percent from distance.

Key contributors:

Malik Pope — 12.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 52.1 percent field goal

Devin Watson — 12.3 ppg, 3.8 apg, 38.5 percent 3-point

Jalen McDaniels — 10.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 59.8 percent field goal


 

No. 3 Michigan

Michigan enters March hot — one of the hottest teams in the country, in fact.

The Wolverines caught fire in February, and haven’t slowed down. Michigan hasn’t lost a game since Feb. 6, and they enter the NCAA Tournament on a nine-game winning streak including marquee wins over Ohio State, Michigan State, and Purdue.

In the Big Ten Conference tournament, the Wolverines went won against Michigan State then Purdue in two days. Michigan is rated No. 10 in KenPom, with metrics to be the No. 5-best defense and 29th-best offense.

Three players for the Wolverines average double-figures, while five players average more than three rebounds a game. They have the No. 55-best three-point shooting percentage of any team in the country with two players — Isaiah Livers and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman — averaging above 40 percent from three-point land.

Key contributors:

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman — 12.6 ppg, 3.3 apg, 3.9 rpg

Moritz Wagner — 14.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 52.9 percent field goal

Charles Matthews — 12.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.6 apg

 

No. 14 Montana

Montana claimed the Big Sky Conference title after cruising by Eastern Washington and escaping a nail-bitter in the semifinals against Northern Colorado.

Montana went on a 13-game winning streak from late December to early February. After dropping back-to-back games in February, the Grizzlies picked up the pieces ending on a six-game winning streak.

The Grizzlies dominated weaker competition, as they played the 204th-best strength of schedule, before finishing with a 26-7 record. According to KenPom’s metrics, the Grizzlies rank inside the top 100 in offense (82) and defense (65).

A pair of 6-foot-8 senior forwards Fabijan Krslovic and Jamar Akoh lead the Grizzlies, each shooting over 57 percent from the field. Akoh averages 13.1 points per game, but has the potential to explode for 34; junior guard Ahmaad Rorie, often breaks 20 points.

Key contributors:

Ahmaad Rorie — 17.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.7 apg

Michael Oguine — 15.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.5 spg

Jamar Akoh — 13.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 57.9 percent field goal