Kansas Jayhawks Are Poised to Return to the Final Four This Year

Farzin VousoughianContributor IIIMarch 19, 2013

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 16:  Ben McLemore #23 (C) of the Kansas Jayhawks and team celebrate their 70-54 win over Kansas State Wildcats during the Final of the Big 12 basketball tournament at Sprint Center on March 16, 2013 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Despite losing Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor, who were key players during last year's national championship appearance in the NCAA tournament, the Jayhawks are capable of returning to the Final Four for the second consecutive season with their current players.

Kansas coach Bill Self had a difficult time during the Jayhawks' three-game losing streak against Big 12 opponents as well as dropping the regular season finale to Baylor. But the Jayhawks managed to put those losses in the rearview mirror and cruised to a Big 12 tournament victory.

Kansas has the No. 1 seed in the South region and is loaded with talent.

Freshman guard Ben McLemore has been a household name this year and will continue to score, along with a strong supporting cast. Kansas has strong senior leadership in guards Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford, forward Kevin Young and center Jeff Withey.

The Jayhawks also have contributions from the bench in sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe and freshmen forwards Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor.

Kansas won't have any issues getting the ball to go through the hoop in this year's tournament. The biggest key for the Jayhawks will be their defense, something opposing teams have had a hard time working against.

Withey averages 4.0 blocks per game as the Jayhawks rank third in the country in rejections. They've allowed teams to shoot only 38.9 percent inside the arc and only 35.9 percent overall, giving them the best field-goal percentage defense in the country.

Self knows how important his defense has been this season and will have his players carry over the dominant performance to the NCAA tournament.

Along with McLemore and his cast shooting, the Jayhawks defense, predominantly led by Withey, will be the key in making sure Kansas can advance and return to the Final Four.

With potential matchups against North Carolina, VCU, Florida and Georgetown within the region, a strong defense will be required of the Jayhawks in order to advance. At that point, Kansas will return to the Final Four for the second straight year and for the third time under Self.