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Why Wichita St. can beat Kansas

Can Gregg Marshall, Fred VanVleet and Wichita State knock off Kansas? Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

The game many in the Sunflower State have long been waiting for is finally here: Kansas is about to face Wichita State. Though Lawrence and Wichita are just 163 miles apart, this will mark the first meeting between the two teams in 22 years.

It took a while to arrange, but the stakes of this Kansas state championship game (sorry, Kansas State) couldn't be bigger. The survivor here will play the winner of Butler-Notre Dame for what the entire hoops world expects will be a shot at Kentucky in the Elite Eight.

In my estimation the Shockers were rather badly under-seeded on the 7-line, and no less an expert than Bill Self endorses that view wholeheartedly. "You can't tell me there are 24 teams in the country better than [Wichita State]," the coach has said. "From that standpoint we know it'll be extremely difficult."

Apparently many laptops and human observers agree with Self and yours truly. KU's collision with Gregg Marshall's team is being rated as something close to a toss-up, and indeed this might be the 2015 tournament's best example of a game that's occurring one round too early. Both the Jayhawks and the Shockers have the look of second-weekend teams.

Early or not, I love that the NCAA tournament creates matchups like this. Here's my rundown of the key factors in Wichita State-Kansas, and why Wichita State can pull the upset.

Kansas picked a good time to start scoring again ...

At the risk of reading too much into one game against New Mexico State, Self's offense looked much better in the round of 64 than it did late in the season and in the Big 12 tournament. KU rang up 1.23 points per possession against NMSU thanks primarily to a superb 17-point performance from Frank Mason.