When a team is trying to pull an upset, three-point shooting and turnovers are key for the underdog to control.
Kansas's opponent, Eastern Kentucky, in the second round game exceeds in both of those areas. The Colonels are second in the nation in turnover margin causing 6.3 more turnovers per game than they cough up. They also like to let it fly from three as they sit at No. 14 in the nation in three-pointers attempted and are tied third in made threes.
Top to bottom, the Colonels are threats to knock down shots.
"It's not like you can key on one or two or three guys that shoot the threes. They have eight guys that can shoot threes," Kansas head coach Bill Self said. "Their bench can all shoot it as well. So, offensively they spread you. And then their 5-man is obviously one of the better passing."
Eastern Kentucky's two strengths also match up well with two of Kansas's weaknesses.
"Those are two (turnovers and three-point defense) areas that we haven't been great at, defending the line and certainly taking care of the basketball and that's probably the two things they do the best," Kansas head coach Bill Self said. "So, obviously reason for us to be concerned and know those are areas we need to be good at."
Kansas is 265th in the nation in field goal defense allowing opponents to shoot 35.9 percent from long range. The Jayhawks struggle even more in turnover margin ranking 298th out of 343 Division I teams in the nation turning the ball over 1.9 times more per game than they take away.
The Jayhawks are well aware of what it will take to avoid the upset and move on to the second round.
"That's the biggest focus when you come in any game, you don't want to commit turnovers. That's been a big focus for us throughout the season, handling the ball, making smart plays with the ball," Kansas senior Tarik Black said. "Honestly, the turnovers and 50-50 balls and rebounds, that's what wins games, they are all hustle plays. It has been a big focus of ours for awhile and we are definitely focusing on it because those are the type of plays that get you put out of this tournament."
Eastern Kentucky is the heavy underdog, but when the game tips tomorrow at 3:10 p.m. in St. Louis, seeds no longer matter.
"It really doesn't matter who's in front of you, you have to play to win. So you've got what, six games. It doesn't matter who is in front of you, you have to play them out, either way goes," Jamari Traylor said. "So seeding is the route to get there, but it definitely shouldn't matter who you have in front of you to play."