ST. LOUIS -- The Stanford basketball team doesn't think it needs a dose of March magic to beat No. 2 seed Kansas and advance into the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

"Kansas is one of those perennial top teams in the country," senior Josh Huestis said, respectfully. "But in terms of having to have some miracle game, some NCAA tournament magic moment, I don't believe that."

When the 10th-seeded Cardinal (22-12) takes on the Jayhawks (25-9) on Sunday morning at the Scottrade Center, its recipe for success will be defense and execution.

"We played top-five teams throughout this year. It's nothing different," junior Anthony Brown said, alluding to a nonconference schedule that included matchups against Connecticut, Michigan and Pittsburgh. "The name on the jersey doesn't mean anything different to us."

The name on the opponent's jersey Sunday is part of college basketball royalty.

The program, once coached by the legendary Phog Allen (who learned the game from basketball inventor Dr. James Naismith), has a long list of imposing credentials:

  • The Jayhawks are playing in their 25th consecutive NCAA tournament.

  • They have won the past 10 Big 12 regular-season titles.

  • They have won 25 games or more for nine straight seasons.

    And it's not just the record books that weigh in KU's favor. This team boasts the nation's No. 1 strength-of-schedule rating based on a 13-8 record against teams in the NCAA field.


    Advertisement

    For the sixth straight game, the Jayhawks are expected to be without 7-foot freshman center and likely NBA draft lottery pick Joel Embiid, sidelined by a stress fracture in his lower back.

    But they feature a deep and talented team led by forward Andrew Wiggins, an even more accomplished freshman who could be the top NBA pick later this spring.

    Fellow Ontario native Dwight Powell of Stanford recalled playing against the KU star in an AAU game when Wiggins was in the eighth grade.

    "He was very athletic," Powell said. "He's developed his game so much since then."

    Ask West Virginia, against whom Wiggins scored 41 points this season.

    Still, a No. 10 seed beating a No. 2 isn't an anomaly. Over the past 10 years, No. 10 is 5-8 against No. 2 in the tournament.

    It happened in 2008 when Stephen Curry scored 30 points to lead Davidson past Georgetown 74-70, and again two years later when Omar Samhan went for 32 in Saint Mary's 75-68 win over Villanova.

    "Did it really happen?" Samhan shouted after that game. "We won? For real?"

    If Stanford's players hope to ask the same breathless question after Sunday's game, they will need to deal with KU's quickness and aggressiveness. And they will need to at least contain Wiggins, who averages 17.4 points but is scoring at a 28.0 clip the past four games.

    Kansas coach Bill Self said Wiggins is more comfortable, more confident and more poised than he was at the start of the season. "He's become more of a complete player," Self said.

    Asked if it would benefit Wiggins to return to college for his sophomore season, Self joked, "Oh, I think he should definitely come back, there's no doubt about that."

    Stanford plans to rotate different defenders on Wiggins and could also play a zone. Huestis figures to get the opening assignment.

    Either way, Powell said the Cardinal cannot afford to lose track of Wiggins. "Definitely be aware that he's always looking to score, always looking to attack," Powell said.

    When it's over, star guard Chasson Randle believes the Cardinal will be celebrating.

    "I would hope we could just win it by playing Stanford basketball and not needing a miracle," he said. "But I'll take a win any sort of way."

    Follow Jeff Faraudo on Twitter at twitter.com/JeffFaraudo.

    SUNDAY'S THIRD-ROUND GAME
    South Region, at St. Louis: No. 10 seed Stanford (22-12) vs. No. 2 Kansas (25-9), 9:15 a.m. CBS

    HOW THEY GOT HERE
    Stanford: Defeated No. 7 seed New Mexico, 58-53
    Kansas: Defeated No. 15 Eastern Kentucky, 80-69

    Wiggins
    Kansas freshman
    a potential
    top pick in NBA draft.