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It's 4th-seeded Kansas vs. No. 13 seed Samford in Salt Lake City

Jayhawks & Bulldogs will square off in Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday

3 min read
KU's starting five huddles before a home game at Allen Fieldhouse earlier this season. The Jayhawks are headed to next week's NCAA Tournament as a No. 4 seed in the Midwest. [Chance Parker photo]

Despite losing four of the final five games down the stretch, the Kansas men's basketball team held on to a top-4 seed and will open the NCAA Tournament next week as a No. 4 seed in the Midwest region.

The Jayhawks (22-10) will travel to Salt Lake City for their opening game on Thursday and would play again Saturday with a win. If KU can win two in Utah, they would advance to Detroit, where a likely matchup with No. 1 seed Purdue looms.

Game times will be announced later tonight.

KU's first-round opponent is Samford, which CBS analyst Clark Kellogg called "high-octane" with "a lot of 3s made."

Samford plays at a fast pace and shot 39% from 3-point range. The Bulldogs got in with a 29-5 record after winning the SoCon tournament title. This marks Samford's second trip to the NCAA Tournament in program history and first since 2000. The Bulldogs are 0-2 in NCAA Tournament games to date.

The top 4 seeds in the Midwest region are: 1 - Purdue, 2 - Tennessee, 3 - Creighton and 4 - Kansas.

This marks a tie for the lowest seed the Jayhawks have had under Bill Self entering the NCAA Tournament. Most recently, the Jayhawks were a 4 seed in 2019, when they traveled to Salt Lake City and lost to Final-Four-bound Auburn in the second round.

Kansas has been a No. 4 seed three times under current coach Bill Self. The Jayhawks are 4-3 in the NCAA Tournament as a 4 seed under Self.

2004: 3-1, lost to Georgia Tech in Elite Eight
2006: 0-1, lost to Bradley
2019: 1-1, beat Northeastern and lost to Auburn

The Jayhawks have now qualified for the NCAA Tournament for an NCAA-record 34th consecutive season.

The Jayhawks are a No. 4 seed for the 14th time in program history and are 8-5 as a No. 4 seed all-time, including 6-1 against No. 13 seeds.

Kansas will be playing in the NCAA Midwest Region for the second time in the past three seasons. Kansas is 45-5 in the NCAA Tournament first round all-time, and this week's matchup will be the first-ever meeting between Kansas and Samford.

KU holds an all-time NCAA Tournament record of 111-49 entering this year's Big Dance.  

Samford, located in Birmingham, Alabama, is led by fourth-year head coach Bucky McMillan. McMillan was named the SoCon Coach of the Year after leading Samford to a program-record 29 wins in 2023-2024.

On the court, Samford is led by first-team all-SoCon forward Achor Achor, who averaged 15.8 points per game on 60% from the field, including 45% from 3-point range. Samford enters Thursday’s game on a four-game winning streak, with its last loss coming to Wofford on Feb. 28.

Here's a look at the top teams slotted into this year's bracket, which included 8 Big 12 teams, not 9 like most Bracketologists predicted. Oklahoma did not make the field of 68 this season.

EAST - (1) UConn, (2) Iowa State, (3) Illinois, (4) Auburn, (5) San Diego State

SOUTH - (1) Houston, (2) Marquette, (3) Kentucky, (4) Duke, (5) Wisconsin

MIDWEST - (1) Purdue, (2) Tennessee, (3) Creighton, (4) Kansas, (5) Gonzaga

WEST - (1) North Carolina, (2) Arizona, (3) Baylor, (4) Alabama, (5) Saint Mary's

Here's a look at where each of the 8 Big 12 Conference teams that made the NCAA Tournament were seeded in this year's bracket.

Big 12 team (seed): Houston (1), Iowa State (2), Baylor (3), Kansas (4), BYU (6), Texas Tech (6), Texas (7), TCU (9)

Stay tuned for more on KU's draw, including reaction from the Jayhawks.