It was a closer-than-expected start to the NCAA tournament for South Region No. 2 seed Kansas on Thursday night, but it outlasted No. 15 seed Eastern Kentucky for an 80-69 victory in St. Louis.
The Jayhawks (25-9)—without star big man Joel Embiid—trailed by as many as nine points after an early three-point shooting barrage from Colonels guard Glenn Cosey. The game was tied at the half, but Kansas pulled away late to advance to the third round, where it will meet No. 10 seed Stanford Cardinal.
The Cardinal (22-12) may have done the Jayhawks a huge favor by eliminating No. 7 seed New Mexico in the second round. The Lobos presented a potentially nightmarish matchup due to their size and the presence of stud forward Cameron Bairstow. But, for the second tournament in a row, they couldn't get past their first game.
Stanford started fast, opening a big first-half lead, and finished strong, led by its dynamic guard Chasson Randle with 23 points to secure a 58-53 upset and advance to this matchup with the Jayhawks.
The winner advances to the Sweet 16, and these are the five X-factors that will decide who moves on to Memphis.