By Harry Allison
Ivy champ Penn is making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2007, and as a 16-seed they are a deep underdog against No. 1 Kansas this Thursday in Wichita.
However, the New York Times thinks an upset may happen:
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN Deep breath on this one: It would be the first time a No. 16 beat a No. 1 in what will have been 132 contests. First, consider the imperfection of the No. 1: The Jayhawks are ninth according to KenPom.com, the equivalent of a No. 3 seed; they lag defensively; their average point differential was 21st, the same as fellow Big 12 member West Virginia (a No. 5 seed); and it is unclear how available injured big man Udoka Azubuike will be. Then there’s Penn: The Quakers won the Ivy League, which had a down year but is still a more formidable conference than No. 16s typically come from; are expert at defending the 3-pointer; and are coached by Steve Donahue, who took Cornell to the round of 16 several years ago.
WHY IT MIGHT NOT It has never — repeat never — happened before. The closest a No. 16 has come to beating a No. 1 was in 1989, when Georgetown eked out a 50-49 victory … over Penn’s Ivy rival Princeton.
X FACTOR Caleb Wood is a strong perimeter defender who takes care of the ball. He typically comes off the bench for Penn. Maybe he has earned more playing time for this one?
LINE Kansas by 14. That is smaller than every No. 2 seed’s line, by the way.