NEW ORLEANS -- On Sunday, Bill Self came right out and admitted it: When he first saw the 2012 NCAA tournament bracket, he dreamed of Monday night.
"I dreamed about it as soon as I saw the brackets," Self said. "You look at your region, you say, OK, first game, who do we have to beat to get to the Sweet 16, who is a potential matchup, how do we match up?
"I did look. I said: 'How cool would it be to play Kentucky in the finals?'"
The answer, now that it's real: Very, very cool. The other answer, now that it's real: Very, very difficult.
As good as Kansas is, with experienced guard play and surefire All-American power forward Thomas Robinson and a defense ranked among the nation's best, to win the national title it will have to take down a team Self believes to be among the best we've seen in years. This game is infused with storylines -- from the two winningest programs in college hoops to the personal Self-Calipari rematch of the 2008 national title to the Davis-Robinson matchup, and on down the line -- but those storylines serve only as a function of what happens when two basketball teams take the court for 40 minutes Monday night.
Self and his players made another admission Sunday: They know they're the underdog. From a sheer talent standpoint, Kentucky is -- and should be -- the favorite. But games aren't played on paper, and Kansas has its own fair share of talent, too. "They got to bleed just like we bleed," guard Tyshawn Taylor said. "Everything will be proved Monday night."
So, how do the Jayhawks match up? Let's dig in.
For the rest of Eamonn Brennan's preview, click here.