Kansas Jayhawks vs North Carolina St Wolfpack in Midwest Sweet 16 battle in St. Louis

2012 NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional Semifinals
#11 North Carolina St Wolfpack vs #2 Kansas Jayhawks
Edward Jones Dome – St. Louis, Missouri
Friday, March 23, 2012, 10:17 pm Eastern, TV: TBS
Opening Line: Kansas -8
Current Line: Kansas -8 1/2
Opening Total: 141 1/2
Current Total: 142 1/2
Opening Money Line: Kansas -375 / NC State +315
Current Money Line: Kansas -425 / NC State +355

The Kansas Jayhawks and NC State Wolfpack will meet in the Midwest regional semifinals Friday night in St. Louis. The Jayhawks are 8 point favorites.

The 29-6 Kansas Jayhawks, coached by Bill Self, won the Big 12 regular season title. The Jayhawks lost in the Big 12 semifinals to Baylor, which likely cost them a #1 seed. Kansas did receive a #2 seed in the Midwest region, with the regionals played in nearby St. Louis, so it wasn’t all bad for the Jayhawks. Kansas beat #15 seed Detroit 65-50 in the second round of the tournament, and escaped with a 63-60 win over #10 seed Purdue in the third round. Both games were played in Omaha. Purdue jumped out to a 19-8 lead over Kansas early, and was up 42-32 early in the second half. The Jayhawks took the lead for the first time with just under 3 minutes to go, and held on for the win.

Next up for Kansas is a date with #11 seed North Carolina St. The Wolfpack are technically a Cinderella team, but they were seeded way too low. The 24-12 Wolfpack, coached by Mark Gottfried, finished tied for fourth in the ACC. NC State lost to North Carolina in the ACC semifinals. The Wolfpack upset #6 San Diego St 79-65 in the second round, and slipped by #3 Georgetown 66-63 in the third round. The Wolfpack were up by 11 in the second half against Georgetown and held on for the 3 point win. Georgetown missed a shot at the buzzer that would have tied it to send NC State to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005.

Kansas leads the series 10-1 against NC State but they haven’t played since 1996. The Jayhawks beat the Wolfpack in the 1986 Elite 8 to go to the Final Four. The winner of Kansas and NC State will play either North Carolina or Ohio in the regional finals this season.

NC State has wins over Princeton, Texas, St. Bonaventure, Maryland, Wake Forest twice, Boston College three times, Miami twice, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Virginia. The Wolfpack have losses to Vanderbilt, Indiana, Stanford, Syracuse, Georgia Tech, North Carolina 3 times, Virginia, Duke, Florida St, and Clemson.

The Jayhawks have losses to Kentucky, Duke, Davidson, Iowa St, and Missouri. Kansas has non-conference wins over Georgetown, UCLA, South Florida, Long Beach St, Ohio St, and USC. The Jayhawks swept every team in the Big 12 except Missouri and Iowa St.

NC State is outscoring opponents 73-68 this season. The Wolfpack are shooting 46.3% from the field, including 35.8% from 3 point range. North Carolina St makes 70.3% of their free throws. The Wolfpack average 37.2 rebounds a game and have a rebounding margin of +4.5. NC State averages 15.8 assists, 12.7 points, 6.7 steals, and 4 blocks a game. North Carolina St is 13th in assists nationally. Wolfpack opponents are shooting 41.7% from the field including 33.8% from 3 point range. NC State forces 12.4 turnovers a game.

NC State Forward C.J. Leslie averages 14.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.6 blocks a game to lead the team. Lorenzo Brown averages 12.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 1.8 steals a game. Brown leads the team in assists and steals. Forward Scott Wood averages 12.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.6 assists a game. Wood is shooting 41.7% from 3 point range. Richard Howell averages 11 points, 9.1 rebounds to lead the team, and 1.1 assists a game  C.J. Williams averages 10.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.1 steals a game. He is shooting 33.7% from 3 point range. DeShawn Painter averages 6.3 points, and 4.3 rebounds.

Kansas is outscoring opponents 74-62 this season. The Jayhawks are shooting 48% from the field, including 35.2% from the three point line. Kansas is #20 nationally in field goal percentage. Kansas makes 69.2% of their free throws. Kansas averages 37.2 rebounds a game and has a rebounding margin of +5.7. The Jayhawks average 15.3 assists, 13.1 turnovers, 7.3 steals, and 5.6 blocks a game. Kansas opponents are shooting 38.1% from the field including 34.5% from 3 point range. Kansas is #6 nationally in opponent’s field goal percentage. The Jayhawks force 13.9 turnovers a game.

Kansas Forward Thomas Robinson averages 17.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, along with 1.1 steals and 1 block a game. He leads the Jayhawks in scoring and rebounding. Robinson is second in the country in rebounding and is a Naismith Award finalist. Tyshawn Taylor averages 16.9 points, 1.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists to lead the team, and 1.2 steals a game. He is shooting 41.6% from 3 point range. Elijah Johnson averages 10 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.5 steals a game to lead the team. Jeff Withey averages 9.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks a game to lead the team.   Travis Releford averages 8.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.1 steals a game.  Guard Ben McLemore and forward Jamari Taylor are both ineligible this season.

Kansas is 17-16-1 ATS and the total is 12-20-2 this season. NC State is 17-14-1 ATS and the total is 19-13 this season. The Wolfpack are 7-0 ATS after a straight up win, 7-0-1 overall, 5-0 in non-conference games, as an underdog, and as a neutral site underdog, 5-0-1 after a cover, 5-2 in Friday games, and in NCAA tournament games, and 20-8 in neutral site games. The Jayhawks are 5-1 after failing to cover, 8-3 in Friday games, 2-5 after a straight up win, 1-4 against teams with winning records, and 1-5 as a favorite of 7-12.5 points.

NC State is playing their best basketball of the season, and can certainly pull off the upset against a Kansas team that has been the victims of upsets to VCU and Northern Iowa the last 2 years in the tournament. I like Kansas to win a close game playing a defacto home game in St. Louis, but NC State will cover the number.

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