OKLAHOMA CITY — Just when the Kansas Jayhawks were talking about how they don't feel any extra pressure being the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, the President of the United States had to go heap on another helping of expectations.
President Barack Obama has Kansas over Kentucky for the national championship, a year after he correctly picked North Carolina as champ, and don't think the Jayhawks weren't excited to hear it.
Maybe too excited.
"Now we got so much pressure on us, that's why I'm starting to get sweaty again," KU forward Marcus Morris said with the clear intention of humor. "Because the president's got us now, we can't let him down. We gotta go out and play hard for him. And I wanna meet him anyway."
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Now, don't get the wrong idea. KU's players said all the right things about Lehigh on Wednesday, that the Mountain Hawks are capable of beating them if they aren't on their game, that Lehigh can shoot the three very well and is therefore dangerous to a KU team that hasn't defended the three at times this season. The Jayhawks, of course, do not want to be the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed, so they'll be ready tonight at the Ford Center.
All of that said, how could they not get ahead of themselves after sitting on their team bus Wednesday afternoon and watching Obama pick them to win the big one?
"Balanced team," Obama told ESPN's Andy Katz. "They've got (Sherron) Collins in the backcourt. I always like teams in the tournament who've got experience. Terrific guards."
When Obama predicted KU-Kentucky, Katz pointed out there would be a rematch of the coaches from the 2008 NCAA championship game between KU coach Bill Self and Kentucky coach John Calipari, who was the coach at Memphis then.
"Once again, Self wins," Obama said. "That's the game right there."
Collins, a Chicago native, couldn't help but feel pride that he had something to do with Obama's selection.
"I think he's rolling with me," Collins said.
If the Jayhawks win it all, they would get to meet Obama at a celebration at the White House. Collins, Brady Morningstar, Cole Aldrich, Tyrel Reed, Conner Teahan and Chase Buford would be meeting their second president. In 2008, they got to meet President George W. Bush.
"Meeting Obama would be special," Collins said. "He's the first black president. That would be special alone."
Markieff Morris said: "That's my main man now. Me and Obama always got along, but now that he chose us to win, that's my main man now. The only way we're going to meet him is winning the national championship, so that's what we're trying to do."
Obama may end up regretting it if the Jayhawks win the title. They all agreed they would like to run with him in one of his top-secret pick-up games, and they would not take it easy on him.
"Oh no, I'm going hard," Marcus said. "Never let him win, I'm going hard."
Obama, a former Illinois senator, would have a friend in Collins, though.
"I'd like to have him on my team," Collins said. "I hear he's a pretty good passer."
Obama dished out a high standard for KU to reach on Wednesday, but that was nothing new to this year's Jayhawks.
"There's no pressure," Collins said. "The pressure was the beginning of the season when you are playing not to lose the No. 1 seed. We got here. We demonstrated the way we're gonna play. There's no pressure at all. Just gotta go out and play."