March Madness: Staffer reviews, predicts future for Kansas Jayhawks, Missouri Tigers in Big 12, SEC Tournaments

Matt Antonic, Sports Editor

KANSAS JAYHAWKS: Embiid injury looms large over KU hopes
The University of Kansas basketball coach Bill Self’s simple words cast a long, complex shadow over the Kansas Jayhawks March Madness dreams, changing the entire outlook on the Big 12 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. In a Monday night statement, Self revealed that star center Joel Embiid is out for the Big 12 Tournament with a nagging stress fracture in his back. Even worse for KU, Embiid is not guaranteed to return for the NCAA Tournament. Embiid, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, is a critical factor for KU’s success, especially on defense. His play down low was a major thorn in the side of opponents all year, many of which struggled to rebound against him or prevent easy scoring opportunities. It is clear that KU does not resemble a Final Four team without his presence on the floor, and may see its hopes of building on a 10th straight conference title in the NCAA’s fall short again.

In the Big 12 Tournament:
KU pulled out a winner in a wild game yesterday versus Marcus Smart and the Oklahoma State Cowboys, with a final score of 77-70. Andrew Wiggins went off for another big game, scoring 30 points helping the Jayhawks to victory. Today, in the Big 12 Tournament Semi-Finals they face the #16 Iowa State Cyclones, whom the Jayhawks have beaten twice this season. However, Iowa State catches a break with KU center Joel Embiid being out with a back injury, as the Cyclones throw a small, quick lineup on the floor. This matchup will be a tossup. Can Iowa State cool down the red-hot  Wiggins? Can KU slow down Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim and dominate down low? Tune into ESPNU at 6 p.m. to watch what looks to be one of the best games of the conference tournaments this year.

MISSOURI TIGERS: Win, and they’re in
It all comes down to this. A season filled with disappointment and dismay is coming to a close. Mizzou has had quite an up and down season, finishing eighth place in the cesspool that is SEC Basketball. Lackluster efforts doomed Missouri late in the season; the Tigers lost 3 of 5 entering the SEC Tournament. Yesterday, Mizzou won the day with a nail-biting 91-83 win over Texas A&M in double-overtime. Today, Mizzou faces the number one Florida Gators, winners of 23 straight and the favorite to win the National Championship. Mizzou will have a punchers chance if its guards, led by Jabari Brown, can heat up against Florida’s defense, the best in the country. Mizzou will essentially be in the NCAA Tournament with a win, and a loss will send the Tigers packing for the NIT. Life on the bubble isn’t much fun. Watch ESPNU at 12 p.m. today for the potential upset.