LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas fought its way through arguably the toughest league in college basketball this season, ultimately sharing the Big 12 regular-season title with Baylor before romping past Texas Tech to win the conference tournament as well.
Maybe it's karma that the Jayhawks could have the easiest path of a No. 1 seed to the Final Four.
They earned the top seed line for the 15th time on Sunday, second only to North Carolina for most in college hoops history, and Big 12 player of the year Ochai Agbaji and Co. will open the NCAA Tournament in the Midwest Region against the play-in winner between Texas Southern and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in Fort Worth, Texas.
Jayhawks coach Bill Self has a No. 1 seed for the 10th time, third-most in history, trailing only retiring Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski with 14 and former Kansas and North Carolina coach Roy Williams with 13.
While the Jayhawks never reached the top spot in the Top 25 this season, their biggest roadblock to reaching New Orleans spent three weeks there. That would be second-seeded Auburn, the regular-season SEC champs, who will begin their quest for a second Final Four appearance four years against Jacksonville State in Greenville, South Carolina.
The Tigers were in line for a No. 1 seed for most of the season, but they took their lumps down the stretch, losing five of their last nine games to slip a line on the bracket. That included a quarterfinal loss to Texas A&M in the SEC tourney.
Other favorites to reach the Midwest Region semifinals in Chicago include fifth-seeded Iowa, which won its first Big Ten tourney title since 2006 with a victory over Purdue on Sunday and will open against Atlantic 10 tourney champ Richmond; Big East regular-season champion Providence, which gets South Dakota State with its gaudy 30-4 record; and No. 6 seed LSU, which will play under interim coach Kevin Nickelberry after firing Will Wade over the weekend, one day after the Tigers were beaten by Arkansas in the quarterfinals SEC Tournament.
Allegations against Wade stem from a wide FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball that has implicated numerous major programs, including two others in the Midwest Region: Kansas and Auburn.
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