Sidelines with John Clay

Kansas basketball not that crazy about being President Obama’s pick

Austin Peay’s Khalil Davis (11) dunks during practice for a first-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. Austin Peay will play Kansas on Thursday.
Austin Peay’s Khalil Davis (11) dunks during practice for a first-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. Austin Peay will play Kansas on Thursday. The Associated Press

With all the chitter-chatter going around about seedings -- the past few days has been college basketball’s crying season -- it is worth mentioning that the NCAA Tournament’s overall No. 1 seed is right here in Iowa.

That would be Kansas, No. 1 seed in the South Region, the team fully expected to play its way on to Louisville’s Yum Center and, by the way, the pick of President Barack Obama to climb the ladder in Houston in three weeks.

“I wasn’t that giddy about it at all,” Kansas coach Bill Self said Wednesday when asked about being the president’s choice, not for the Supreme Court, but to win the tournament. “He’s done that before, and then he will blame me for ruining his pool if things don’t work out.”

As for being the overall No. 1 seed, Self said that didn’t really matter either. It’s all about match-ups, he said. It’s all about which team you play next.

I wasn’t that giddy about it at all.

Kansas coach Bill Self on being President Obama’s pick

Specifically, that would be Austin Peay, the OVC No. 8 seed that got it together just in time and won the conference tournament. The Governors won their last six games to go 18-17. Few people, however, give Peay much of a chance to become the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1.

“I think it will happen,” Self said of the 16-over-1 talk. “Just hopefully not in 2016.”

Meanwhile, Obama has Kansas beating North Carolina in the finals, which is a pretty safe choice. The Jayhawks have won 14 straight, starting with that overtime SEC/Big 12 Challenge win over Kentucky at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, in a game that was an intense and entertaining as any hoops fan could hope to see.

Self said his team is playing with a looseness and freedom about it for the last week. He said he left like the Jayhawks were coming into the tournament “whole for the first time” in a long time.

“I’m fine with everybody picking us or not picking us,” Self said. “I know none of that matters at all, but I know our guys are chomping at the bit to go play.”

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