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UC Davis Aggies vs. Kansas Jayhawks: NCAA Tournament First Round Preview and Prediction

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Entering the NCAA Tournament, the Kansas Jayhawks didn’t know if they were going to face the UC Davis Aggies or the North Carolina Central Eagles. After Wednesday’s game, the Jayhawks received their answer.

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UC Davis edged North Carolina Central 67-63 behind 18 points and 12 rebounds from Chima Moneke. The win was the Aggies’ first ever in NCAA Tournament play. Now, UC Davis will look to make history by becoming the first No.16 to defeat a No. 1 seed when it takes on Kansas in Tulsa on Friday night.

Midwest Region: No.16 UC Davis Aggies (23-12) vs. No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks (28-4)

When: 6:50 p.m. ET (Friday)

Where: Bank of Oklahoma Center (Tulsa, Okla.)

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TV: TNT

Spread: Kansas -23.5

Keys for UC Davis

UC Davis’ strengths are defense and rebounding, two things it will need to stay in the game against Kansas. The Aggies have held opponents to 68.9 points per game while collecting 35.7 rebounds per contest.

While UC Davis isn’t the biggest team in the Tournament, the Aggies play a lot bigger than their size indicates. They can score the ball inside and out, but that could prove challenging against a Jayhawks team that features plenty of talent, length and athleticism.

Keys for Kansas

Kansas is arguably the most talented team in the country and will get Josh Jackson back after a one-game suspension. Jackson missed the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinal against TCU, a game that the Jayhawks lost 85-82, but head coach Bill Self was emphatic when asked if his star freshman would miss any more action.

Although Kansas is certainly talented enough to get past UC Davis without Jackson, the key to another deep Tournament run is to get the trio of Jackson, Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham back together and on the same page. As long as the Jayhawks are engaged, UC Davis will have its hands full on both sides of the court.

Final Analysis 

A No. 16 seed will likely defeat a No. 1 seed one day, but Friday will not be that day. Kansas has too much talent and depth for UC Davis to keep in check. The Aggies also have a tough time scoring points and that will be problematic against a Jayhawks team that averages 82.7 points per game

Prediction: Kansas 92, UC Davis 64

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.