This article is part of our Sweet 16 Preview series.
Tip-off: Friday, March 23
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 5 Clemson
Key Matchup: Elijah Thomas vs. Udoka Azubuike. This isn't the matchup you'd think of when looking at the two teams, but it may be the most important one. Clemson ran away from Auburn in large part because Thomas owned the paint en route to 18 points and 11 rebounds. Sure, Gabe DeVoe also caught fire from deep, but Auburn couldn't do anything against Thomas due to an injury to its big man. With a few more days of rest, Azubuike should be closer to full health after playing 22 minutes on Saturday against Seton Hall. Azubuike is much more polished than earlier in the season and has been almost automatic when given the ball down low. The winner of that matchup could decide the game and Azubuike has the edge due to size.
Kansas will win IF: it continues to do what it's done for the past month and that's make shots. Malik Newman has been on fire for the Jayhawks with four made threes in four of the last five games. Considering he may be the team's fourth-best player, that's an important stat. Devonte' Graham struggled against Seton Hall, but to keep winning, his shot has to start falling like it was in the first round. Svi Mykhailiuk is another player not to sleep on and his matchup could lead to a lot of favorable shots.
Clemson will win IF: its defense continues to dominate. The