Kentucky vs. Kansas: 3 Keys for Jayhawks to Complete NCAA Championship Upset

Austin GreenCorrespondent IApril 1, 2012

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 15:  Thomas Robinson #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks drives the ball against Terrence Jones #3 of the Kentuky Wildcats during the 2011 State Farms Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 15, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The Kansas Jayhawks will face a frightening opponent in the national championship game, and I'm not just talking about Anthony Davis' unibrow.

Kentucky is one of the most dominant college basketball teams I've ever seen, and the Jayhawks will need a near-perfect performance to take them out. Of course, a Kansas upset is far from impossible.

With a future top five NBA draft pick, a talented point guard and a suffocating style of defense, the Jayhawks have the necessary tools to cut down the nets on Monday. If they follow these three keys, they may be able to make their dream a reality.


Start Strong

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 31:  Thomas Robinson #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks reacts in the second half while taking on the Ohio State Buckeyes during the National Semifinal game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at the Mercedes-Benz Supe
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Kansas has somehow made it to the national title game despite playing legitimately awful in the first half of four straight games.

Against Ohio State, North Carolina, N.C. State and Purdue, the Jayhawks allowed an average of 37.5 points in the first half. In those halves, their opponents shot 49.1 percent from the field and 51.2 percent from behind the arc.

The Jayhawks were able to buckle down in the second half of those games, but they won't be as lucky against the Wildcats. If they don't play strong defense from the opening tip, Kansas will get blown out.


Crash the Boards

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 31:  Wayne Blackshear #25 of the Louisville Cardinals dunks the ball in the second half against the Kentucky Wildcats during the National Semifinal game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at the Mercedes-Benz
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Louisville Cardinals were able to hang around the more talented, more athletic Wildcats because they attacked the offensive glass. They out-rebounded Kentucky 37-32 and grabbed 16 offensive boards.

As good as Kentucky's big men are, they aren't exactly eager to box out. Perhaps the biggest knock on Davis is that he solely relies on his length and athleticism to grab rebounds. If Jeff Withey and Thomas Robinson can push him under the rim and create second chance opportunities, they will give their team a major advantage.


Pressure Marquis Teague

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 31:  Marquis Teague #25 of the Kentucky Wildcats drives on Peyton Siva #3 of the Louisville Cardinals in the first half during the National Semifinal game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at the Mercedes-Be
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Tyshawn Taylor has the speed, size and instincts to shutdown opposing point guards. He'll certainly have his hands full with Kentucky's talented freshman. But if he can force Teague into some errors, he'll give Kansas a huge boost.

Although Teague has been excellent in the tournament, I'm still not sold on his ability to keep his composure on the big stage. He can be very turnover prone at times, and with an experienced guard like Taylor shadowing him all night, I wouldn't be surprised if he commits some costly mistakes.

When the two teams met in November, Taylor forced Teague into six turnovers. With a similar performance on Monday, Taylor may be able to sway the outcome of the game and bring the national title back to Lawrence.