Seton Hall has conquered Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse for the past two seasons while remaining competitive on the road against the Wildcats. "I knew coming it the game that my team needed me".
"I've been a Kansas fan growing up watching a lot of great guys in the National Basketball Association now".
This is a game that the Jayhawks should win, but another twelve terrible minutes of offense could mean the end of Kansas' season.
"I thought Silvio played well enough that we should have confidence using Silvio in pressure situations", Kansas coach Bill Self said. "We play against great teams all year, so I think we can prepare for that type of crowd and atmosphere, but we're excited and our mindset has to be to go in and win". They're disciplined, they play hard.
Rodriguez said it would be tough to continue to root for Kansas if things do not go his way Saturday.
KU, which is 5-0 all-time in tourney games contested in Wichita, next will face the victor of the North Carolina State-Seton Hall game on Saturday at Intrust Bank Arena.
The Jayhawks would gladly welcome the 7-foot sophomore's usual contribution of 13.7 points, which includes the nation's most accurate touch (77.4 percent).
Still, with Udoka Azubuike less than 100 percent, KU doesn't have its ablest big body to lean on and battle with the Pirates' marquee big.
"Devonte' Graham is as good as any guard I've seen in college basketball", Willard said. Azubuike went to the bench with four fouls with about 9 minutes left, and coach Kevin Willard instructed his own guys to go right back to their center.
"They've got two bigs that pass efficiently".
Graham ended the day with 29 points, the most by a Jayhawk in an NCAA Tournament game since Sherron Collins scored 32 in a first-round game against North Dakota State in 2009. "He reminds me a lot of what Jalen Brunson does for Villanova, kind of can score the ball at any time, runs the team extremely well".
"With the NCAA Tournament, you don't worry as much if you played well of if you played poorly", Self said. At that point, the 1-16 matchup was still anybody's game.
Between Graham, Azubuike and what is expected to be an overwhelming Kansas atmosphere, Seton Hall has its work cut out for it against the No. 1-seed Jayhawks. "It's not about who's better, who's not better, it's all about who wins it in the last minute, who wins the game. We've played against some good dudes this year but we haven't played against anybody who is the combination of a force and a scorer and the rebounder he is, and as a passer", Self said.