(1)Kansas vs. (9)Illinois
There might not be a more complete basketball team in the country than the Kansas Jayhawks. With and inside duo of twin brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris to go along with a litany of quality back court players including Tyshawn Taylor and Brady Morningstar, and that depth and balance was on display as KU defeated Boston, 72-53 on Friday. After a slow start resulted in a 33-29 Kansas lead at the half, the Morris brothers ignited a 10-2 run to start the second half, opening up an eleven point lead. The Terriers never got closer than six points from that point. Kansas out-rebounded Boston 38-23 and racked up 19 assists on its 29 field goal while shooting .509 from the field. The Jayhawks, 33-2, have now won 15 of their last 16 games.
(9)Illinois Fighting Illini
Coming into its second round contest with UNLV, Illinois had gone 6-10 in its last 16 games, but the Fighting Illini got big games out of seniors Demetri McCamey and Mike Davis to advance to the round of 32 for the first time since 2006. McCamey, who ranks eleventh nationally in assists per game (6.1) had 17 points, making 7-13 field goals and 3-5 three-point shots, and seven assists while Davis had game-highs 22 points and nine rebounds to go along with five dimes. Illinois shot nearly 60 percent from the field and close to 54 percent from behind the arc. Throughout the season, Coach Bruce Weber’s team has defended the three-point shot very well and the Illini allowed UNLV to shoot just .292 from deep. Illinois, however, ranks 206th nationally in turnover margin (minus-.5) and will have to value each and every possession to have a chance against Kansas.
HOOPSWORLD’s Pick: Kansas. The Jayhawks ability to defend and their offensive versatility will prove to be too much for Illinois.