The pattern is in place.
A year ago, Kansas was one of the final at-large teams selected for the women's NCAA Tournament. In the first round, the Jayhawks defeated a school that had left the Big 12. That opening victory boosted KU toward a surprising run to the Sweet 16.
This year, the Jayhawks again had to sweat their bracket inclusion. They were one of the last four teams selected. And the first-round opponent for Kansas is … Colorado, a former member of the Big 12 that is now a member of the Pac-12 Conference.
The major difference in these two scenarios is that in 2012, the first-round game was on a neutral site. The 12th-seeded Jayhawks (18-13) will be playing the fifth-seeded Buffaloes (25-6) in Boulder, Colo.
The winner of this first-round game in the Norfolk Region will face the winner of No. 4 seed South Carolina and No. 13 seed South Dakota State.
It's Kansas' second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks were an 11 seed last year before upsetting No. 6 Nebraska and No. 3 Delaware on their way to the Sweet 16.
"It's where we think we belong," KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said. "It's where need to be. It's what we aspire to do."
Making the trip to Boulder is something Kansas did every year from 1983-2011. Kansas has a 35-33 edge against Colorado, and the Jayhawks had won the last five games of their annual series before it ended.
No. 12 Kansas (18-13) vs. No. 5 Colorado (25-6)
5:30 p.m., Saturday, Boulder, Colo., ESPN2.
Coaches: Bonnie Henrickson, Kansas; Linda Lappe, Colorado.
Why they're here: Kansas was an at-large selection from the Big 12. Colorado was an at-large selection from the Pac-12.
Scouting the Jayhawks: Kansas will go as far as its defense can carry it; opponents score 65 a game and shoot nearly 40 percent from the field. The Jayhawks have a solid senior trio in point guard Angel Goodrich, forward Carolyn Davis and guard Monica Engelman. Goodrich averages 7.0 assists and 2.9 steals a game. Davis, who missed last year's run to the Sweet 16 because of a knee injury, averages 15.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Engleman has made 12 of her 22 3-point shots over the last five games.
Scouting the Buffaloes: Senior guard Chucky Jeffrey leads Colorado in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. Freshman Ariel Roberson, whose older brother Andre plays for the men's team, has become a key performer. She averages 12 points, six rebounds and shoots 42 percent from 3-point range. Coach Linda Lappe has a 10-player rotation with all averaging 10 minutes or more per game. Colorado is 10th in the nation in rebounding margin with a 9.2 average edge per game and is 30th in scoring defense, allowing 53.7 per game.