4,000 students offer warm welcome for Jayhawks in Wichita for NC - KCTV5 News

4,000 students offer warm welcome for Jayhawks in Wichita for NCAA tourney

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Kansas has quite the following in Wichita with almost 4,000 students bussed from schools to Intrust Bank Arena simply to watch them practice Wednesday. (Dani Welniak/KCTV5 News) Kansas has quite the following in Wichita with almost 4,000 students bussed from schools to Intrust Bank Arena simply to watch them practice Wednesday. (Dani Welniak/KCTV5 News)
WICHITA, KS (KCTV) -

For the eighth time in the last 12 years, Kansas is a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and none are more excited about seeing their team than the Jayhawks fans in Wichita.

Kansas has quite the following in Wichita with almost 4,000 students bussed from schools to Intrust Bank Arena simply to watch them practice Wednesday. Kansas takes on Penn at 1 p.m. Friday.

Every fan KCTV5 News spoke with there thinks KU can move on past Wichita. CBS analyst Jon Rothstein believes they can go even deeper.

"In a year filled with parody, Kansas definitely has an excellent chance of winning a national championship. This may have also been the best coaching job done by Bill Self in his entire coaching career at Kansas. Kansas obviously has a dog in the fight to go to San Antonio and win six games in this tournament, but they will have to do so in the bracket I've deemed the royalty bracket due to the quality of brands among the top three seeds," Rothstein said.

Udoka Azubuike was still in a brace at practice, but he could play Thursday. He and a few other players were impressed by all the fans at practice.

“Monday and Tuesday was strictly non-contact and today was limited contact. He went four possessions," head coach Bill Self said.

His progress has impressed Self and the team doctors.

“I’m optimistic that he can play, but I’m not overly optimistic that he will get significant minutes," Self said.

“I’m getting better day by day. Hopefully, I’m able to play tomorrow but I don’t know," Azubuike said.

Fans will now see a lot of Silvio De Sousa and Mitch Lightfoot, who stepped up without hesitation in the Big 12 Tournament and handled the heat. But, it’s going to get a lot hotter in Wichita, and the freshman big has mixed emotions.

“I want to play. I think Mitch wants to play. It’s hard to know that you are happy because you want to play. But you want to be happy because you want your teammate to play. I’d rather have few time to play with my teammate healthy and do my stuff," De Sousa said.

Lightfoot is prepared for a different kind of big than they’ve seen before with the Quakers’ style of play.

“They’ve got two bigs that pass efficiently. We haven’t really played against a passing big this year. That can do it and that will," Lightfoot said.

People are saying that Penn is one of the toughest 16 seeds they’ve ever seen in the tournament.

Self seconds those remarks, but Devonte Graham says as long as they play focused and continue to ride this confidence they have, they should be fine.

Tip-off is 1 p.m. Thursday.

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