Though there were some shaky moments for Kansas this season, the Jayhawks still finished the year with familiar accolades: Big 12 regular season champs, Big 12 tournament champs, and a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance. It’s the third straight No. 1 seed–and sixth in the last nine years–for Bill Self’s squad, who will begin this year’s tournament with a matchup against Ivy League champs Penn in Wichita on Thursday.
The game is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. ET and will be broadcast nationally on TBS. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch the game, as well as other NCAA tournament games, live on your computer, phone or streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
Hulu With Live TV: In addition to their extensive Netflix-like streaming library, Hulu now also offers a bundle of live channels, including TBS, TNT, TruTV and CBS. You can sign up for “Hulu with Live TV” right here, and you can then watch a live stream of the game on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
DirecTV Now: TBS, TNT and TruTV are each included in all of DirecTV Now’s four main channel packages. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, plus you can get a free Amazon Fire TV if you prepay one month. Once signed up, you can watch the game live on your computer via the DirecTV Now website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app.
Sling TV: TBS, TNT, and TruTV are all included in the “Sling Blue” channel package, while TBS and TNT are also included in the “Sling Orange” package. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial of either, and you can then watch the game live on your computer via the Sling TV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Sling TV app.
Note: You can also watch any tournament game on your computer via the March Madness Live website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the March Madness Live app. To watch these streams, you’ll have a free preview before needing to sign in to a TV provider to keep watching, but if you don’t have cable, you can do this by logging in with your Hulu credentials. DirecTV Now and Sling TV aren’t on the list of TV providers, though.
One of the hottest teams in the country, the Jayhawks have won eight of their last nine, including three straight to win the Big 12 tournament despite being without big man Udoka Azubuike. Self is confident that the 7-footer can return for Thursday’s matchup, though the quality of the opponent, combined with the way they were able to play without him, the Jayhawks may opt to play it safe in preparation for the second round on Saturday.
Sophomore Mitch Lightfoot has been starting for Azubuike, though it’s been freshman Silvio De Sousa who has best helped ease his absence. After joining the team in the middle of the year and logging just 52 minutes during the regular season, the Angola native played 61 minutes in three Big 12 tournament games, averaging 10.0 points and 9.7 rebounds (4.0 offensive) per contest on 14-of-18 shooting.
“He did a great job sticking with it, coming to practice every day, learning the plays, and it’s finally paying off,” Kansas guard Devonte’ Graham said after De Sousa went for 16 and 10 in an 81-70 victory over West Virginia in the championship.
De Sousa’s emergence suddenly provides solid frontcourt depth to go with Kansas’ tremendous perimeter play. Graham, the Big 12 Player of the Year, is showing he can contribute as an elite distributor when his shot isn’t falling, while Malik Newman and Svi Mykhailiuk combined to shoot an absurd 25-of-43 from deep during the Big 12 tourney. If all of that continues to happen, Kansas is extremely dangerous.
That’s good news, because their Round of 64 opponent is no pushover.
Penn went 12-2 in the Ivy League–a conference we’ve seen produce tournament Cinderellas in the recent past–and then took care of Yale and Harvard in the conference tournament to book their spot in their Dance. They’re second in the nation in three-point field goal percentage defense (they held Villanova to just eight made in November, which was the Wildcats’ seventh lowest of the season), and they’re ranked 127th in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, which makes them one of the best 16 seeds in the KenPom Era.
That said, it’s still 1 vs. 16, and it’s still a red-hot Kansas team. Don’t be surprised if Penn’s defense keeps things interesting for a while, but ultimately, the Jayhawks have too many weapons for history to be made.