WKU set to play No. 1 Kansas in NCAA Tournament

Sophomore forward Stephone Drane and junior guard Brandon Harris peek from behind a curtain as they wait to be announced at the NCAA selection show at Diddle Arena on Sunday, March 17, 2013.

Elliott Pratt

WKU has a dancing partner in the NCAA Tournament.

No. 16 seed WKU will face No. 1 seed Kansas Friday in Kansas City.

Coach Ray Harper said the draw didn’t come as a surprise to him and his team.

“It’s about what we anticipated,” Harper said. “(Kansas City) is close enough that we’ll be able to have some fans travel. Now it’s about getting some tape together and prepare for Friday night.”

WKU hosted a selection show party at Diddle Arena for the event. Hundreds of WKU fans were in attendance and the event was shown on CBS at one point.

For those who watched WKU 42 years ago, Kansas is a familiar opponent. The Jayhawks and the Toppers duked it out in 1971 for the National Third Place Game in the Final Four, as WKU prevailed 77-75.

The table is flipped this year with the Big 12 champion Jayhawks as the top seed in the South bracket.

President Gary Ransdell said he likes the layout of the South bracket and hopes that history could repeat itself.

“I saw in the bracket that it has WKU, Kansas, Villanova, and UCLA, which are the teams in the 1971 Final Four,” Ransdell said. “Maybe a little history could play well for us.”

If history were to repeat itself, then more history would be made to add to it. Never before in the NCAA tournament has a No. 16 seed defeated a top-seeded opponent.

“They’re the No. 1 seed for a reason,” Harper said. “It’s one of those deals where you’re extremely excited that you’re still playing and we’ll go play, we’ll see what happens.

“There’s never been a 16 to beat a 1, so let’s go play.”