WICHITA, Kansas — Kansas coach Bill Self didn’t hide his admiration for his first-round NCAA tournament opponent, the Penn Quakers. And it seemed genuine, not the usual coach-speak.
The top-seeded Jayhawks will meet the No. 16-seeded Quakers in Thursday’s 2 p.m. Midwest Regional opening round game at Intrust Bank Arena.
While Penn (24-8) may have been disappointed to be a No. 16 seed while watching the selection show, so was Self.
“I was really surprised when they showed up on the 16 line and after watching them, surprise went to anger because they are not,” Self said late Tuesday night in a brief press gathering at the Jayhawks team hotel. “I was told by somebody yesterday that we are the least favored [No.] one over a 16 team in the history of the tournament, and if you look at their BPI is 100 their RPI is 120, and stuff like that and you start to think (Big 12 member) Iowa State is 144. So they can beat us.”
Self said that 7-foot center Udoka Azubuike, who missed the Big 12 tournament with a knee injury, is not likely to play against Penn. Azubuike was a third-team all-Big 12 selection, who leads the country in field goal percentage (77.4 percent).
Self said Azubuike has been on the court the last three days and has been doing some running, starting, stopping and cutting, but is still not 100 percent.
“He probably won’t practice before Thursday and I never like playing guys before they practice when they are coming off an injury,” said Self, whose team is 27-7 after winning the Big 12 tournament title. “If he can be available and practice on Friday, hopefully we will have him for extended minutes on Saturday – if we are able to play then.”