- Associated Press - Thursday, March 20, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - About the only thing Kansas and Eastern Kentucky have in common is that they are playing each other in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

The Jayhawks are the big, bruising bullies from the Big 12, touting a roster stocked with five-star freshmen, a championship-winning coach and enough March pedigree to stack up with St. Patrick.

The Colonels are the scrappy underdogs from the Ohio Valley Conference, whose senior-laden roster would rather shoot 3-pointers than free throws and that relishes the underdog role.

The No. 2 seed Jayhawks and 15th-seeded Colonels meet Friday in St. Louis, with the winner getting seventh-seeded New Mexico or 10th-seeded Stanford in the third round.

“Being the underdog is always fun,” said the Colonels’ Glenn Cosey, “especially if you can pull off an upset. And a lot of people seem to get with the underdog, so it should be fun.”

The fellas from Eastern Kentucky all seem to have their favorite upset memory, too.

Eric Stutz, the 6-foot-8 forward with the hippie-style “peace and love” bandanna, grew up in Indiana and watched Butler reach two Final Fours. Top defender Corey Walden remembers Lehigh, also a No. 15 seed, knocking off second-seeded Duke a couple of years ago.

“I don’t have a favorite upset memory, but I’m hoping that we can pull off one,” said Cosey, the Colonels’ leading scorer, “and that would be my favorite memory.”

They’ve got a tall task ahead of them in more ways than one.

Kansas (24-9) will be playing without 7-footer Joel Embiid, who’s been ruled out for the opening weekend with a stress fracture in his back. But the Big 12 champs still have far more size, length and athleticism than the Colonels, who prefer to hang around the perimeter all game.

The Jayhawks have also been through the ringer this season: They have played 20 games against 12 opponents who made the NCAA tournament, none of those teams seeded worse than ninth.

“We’re young. We’re hungry. We want to win,” Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins said. “We’re just trying to have that killer mentality. All of us just want to destroy our opponents.”

Indeed, it’s Eastern Kentucky (24-9) that will be relying on experience. Kansas has five new starters this year, including two freshmen in Wiggins and Wayne Selden, while the Colonels start two juniors and three seniors who were part of a 25-win team a season ago.

“I worry about how everybody is going to respond,” Kansas coach Bill Self said, recalling a similarly youthful 2005 team that lost to Bucknell in the opening round. “I just want our guys to be loose, carefree and have fun. The hay is in the barn, so to speak.”

Youth vs experience. Size vs speed. Top dogs vs underdogs. They are all things to watch for when Kansas meets Eastern Kentucky at Scottrade Center. Here are five more:

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