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Kansas Has Elite 8 Gift-Wrapped, Will Need to Keep Focus Early On

After just one day of games — sorry, I refuse to count the play-ins — the 2011 NCAA Tournament has already featured a ton of excitement.  The coverage has been brilliant, there have been games decided on last-second lay-ups, another decided a last-second three-pointer, and upsets that were nearly impossible to forecast.  Despite having not played a game, the Kansas Jayhawks should be drooling.

The most surprising upsets on Thursday were No. 13 Morehead State defeating No. 4 Louisville and No. 12 Richmond knocking off No. 5 Vanderbilt.  Upsets happen and should be expected, so what was so special about these two games?  Both came via the Southwest region.  In fact, both will directly impact Kansas, assuming they get past their first game cupcake on Friday and either No. 9 Illinois or No. 8 UNLV.

When most of you filled out your brackets, you probably had Louisville and Vanderbilt advancing to the round of 32.  Others may have anticipated one upset, but chances are there are few people out there who predicted a Morehead State-Richmond match-up in the second round.  Although anything can happen in the NCAA Tournament, common sense has to come into play.  With that in mind, the Jayhawks had to be thinking Lousiville or Vanderbilt in the Sweet 16 (yes, teams look that far ahead regardless of what they say).  Now they will play neither.

The real task for Kansas now will be taking things one day at a time and not focusing their attention down the road.  Morehead State and Richmond both won their games for a reason — both are obviously quality teams.  However, they were both low seeds for a reason.  The Jawhawks were already a heavy Final Four favorite entering the tournament.  Their path became that much easier on Thursday.



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