Monday, April 2, 2012

Overachieving Kansas in the NCAA Final

Seriously, did anyone believe that Kansas had the stuff to play in tonight’s NCAA basketball tournament final?

This was supposedly a rebuilding year for the Jayhawks if a program as storied as Kansas ever has one. But look at them now. Sometimes, things just happen.

Kansas has been close to going home almost in every game of the tournament. The Jayhawks have lived for the comeback especially in the second half. They looked dead against Ohio State in the national semifinal Saturday night, but like a determined prize fighter, the Jayhawks came off the canvas.

Kansas needs to play a complete game against Kentucky tonight or it has no chance. Obviously, if the Jayhawks wait around until the second half, Kentucky will probably bury them.

Kentucky has a bunch of stars. Kansas has a few stars. But the good thing for Kansas is it only plays the Wildcats one game. This isn’t best-out-of-seven. With one game, Kansas has a chance even if it’s a slim one.

Yes, Kansas has Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor. But I think the key player for the Jayhawks is Jeff Withey. The 7-foot center has been outstanding in some games and so-so or non-existent in others. Withey needs a solid game. He must score points besides block shots. He must be a presence under the basket. He needs to control traffic and keep Kentucky from having its way at the rim. When Withey plays well, Kansas usually wins. When he doesn’t play well it struggles.

Kentucky has the most pressure in this game. The Wildcats are definite favorites. The Jayhawks pressure is minimal unless they stumble in the first half. Then the pressure will be fatal.

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