NCAA Tournament: Boston University loads its slingshot for Goliath Kansas

Boston University, 16th seed and victor of the America East conference championship, faces the No. 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks in an opening round West Regional NCAA tournament basketball game tonight at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (6:50 p.m. Eastern time, TBS).

Charlie Riedel/AP
Boston University players gather on the court during practice for a Southwest regional second-round NCAA tournament college basketball game Thursday, March 17, in Tulsa, Okla. BU takes on top-seeded Kansas Friday night.

Pat Chambers, head coach of Boston University's men's basketball team, is an irrepressible optimist.

As an assistant to head coach to Jay Wright at Villanova, he helped coach the team that reached the Final Four in 2009 - their first shot at a national title since Rollie Massimino brought home a championship trophy to Philadelphia in 1985.

Now, he brings the BU Terriers to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2002. Coach Chambers has praised Wright's steady leadership under pressure and has sought to emulate it. He will need that kind of strength now that the Terriers have drawn Bill Self's Big 12 conference champs the Kansas Jayhawks in this year's NCAA tournament.

The BU Terriers lost their 2009 America East Rookie of the Year John O'Brien in a December game against the University of Massachusetts, and so they will have to rely heavily on their 2008 Rookie of the Year, guard/forward John Holland. Holland, according to the team's website, ranks fourth all-time in scoring at B.U., and has ranked 2nd in rebounding. Against the Morris brothers of Kansas - Markieff and Marcus - and center Jeff Withey, they will have their work cut out pulling down rebounds of any kind.

Kansas, which comes in as the Southwest Region's No. 1 seed out of the Big 12 Conference, has numerous offensive weapons in the Morris brothers, guards Josh Selby, Brady Morningstar, and Tyrel Reed. To slow down the Jayhawks' fast-paced offense, B.U. could try either a 2-3 or 1-3-1 zone defense. There is precedent for this. In 2006, S.U.N.Y. Albany, also a No. 16-seed, used a 2-3 zone for the very first time against the powerhouse University of Connecticut offense - to great effectiveness. B.U. might be well-served to try that tonight.

Chambers is taking all the hype in stride. He has said that he didn't care what seeding the Terriers got or who they play. But Kansas, for its part, has to have something of a nagging feeling going back to that "Sweet Sixteen" loss to Northern Iowa in last year's tournament.

Of course, the Jayhawks have historic precedent on their side. Dating back to 1985, when the tournament went to 64 teams, a No. 16-seed has never beaten a No. 1-seed. But there's always a first time. Just don't count on it happening tonight.

Editor note: The original version of this article misstated the NCAA tournament region in which Kansas plays Boston University on Friday evening.

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