Uh-Oh, We're Not in Kansas Anymore
Another year, another loaded Kansas squad coming into the Big Dance as a possible No. 1 seed.
This seems to happen every year, and, for the last three years, the Jayhawks have have either been upset, or come dangerously close to being upset by a lower seed in the first three rounds of the tournament.
In '05, it was Bucknell, the No. 14 seed who upset third-seeded Kansas on a field goal by Chris Mcnaughton over Kansas big man Wayne Simien. However, it was Simien's missed attempt at a buzzer-beating 15-footer that put the nail in the Jayhawks' coffin.
One year later, the 13th seed Bradley Braves handed the Hawks, who looked disoriented and unprepared until it was too late, another first-round exit in a 77-73 thriller. In this one, Bradley jumped out to a 21-10 lead early in the first half, but Kansas managed to claw its way back, only to come up short as senior guard Jeff Hawkins missed a 3-pointer in the last minute that would have tied the score.
In the '07 dance, Kansas seemed to have gotten past their tournament jet lag until they met the seventh-seeded Southern Illinois Salukis in the Sweet 16. Throughout the first half, SIU's tough defense and physical play held the star-studded Kansas team in check. In the second half, the Jayhawks, led by phenom Brandon Rush, fought their way to a close 61-58 win over a less talented SIU team.
This game proved to be a litmus test for KU, and, although they ultimately bowed out of the tourney in the next round, losing to second seed UCLA, the Jayhawks proved they could win ugly.
SIU's near upset also proved that Kansas could be taken out of its orient with physical play and exposed some holes in Kansas' game.
Thus, it is uncertain what the Jayhawks will do in this year's Big Dance, whether they will repeat the disappointment of '05 or '06 or the vindication that was '07.
This year's edition of the Jayhawks boasts not only talent, but experience as well and could go far into the NCAA tournament, if they can get through the early rounds, that is.
Come selection sunday, we'll see what work Kansas has cut out for them to secure a position in the Final Four. A potential matchup against Western Kentucky or Southern Alabama in the first round, or a game against the sharp shooting Drake bulldogs, would prove to be quite intriguing.
Barring another upset, Kansas has the talent to win the whole thing this year. However, one can never be too sure since this year's tournament is laden with potential Cinderellas, like the teams mentioned above, Butler, Xavier, or maybe even George Mason.
As always, March Madness should be fun to watch to say the least.
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