Kansas Basketball: Why Jayhawks' Tough Road Will Prevent Final Four Run

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2013

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 16:  Head Coach Bill Self of the Kansas Jayhawks reacts  in the first half against hte 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

Kansas had to be excited on Selection Sunday when the team saw it earned a No. 1 seed. That joy probably turned into disappointment when the Jayhawks saw the rest of the bracket.

In the first round, Kansas has an easy matchup against Western Kentucky. While the Hilltoppers have one of the best mascots in college basketball, they will not provide any trouble for the top seed.

Unfortunately, that is where the easy road ends. Before the Jayhawks even get out of the first weekend, they will face one of two teams that have a very good chance at pulling the upset.

One potential opponent is the underseeded North Carolina Tar Heels. While everyone will want to talk about the battle between Roy Williams' current team and former team, the action on the court will be enough to keep fans interested.

The Tar Heels finished third in the tough ACC while building up an RPI of 18. They were not able to beat either Miami or Duke, but they won the last 11 games against everyone else. In addition, they can shoot the lights out and are a matchup nightmare with basically four guards on the floor most of the time.

Considering Kansas' struggles with an athletic team that can shoot in Iowa State (yes, it won three times but it took overtime twice), North Carolina would be a challenge.

However, the No. 9 seed is just as tough. Although Villanova was considered a bubble team for much of the year, wins over Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette and Syracuse changed that. This ability to get up for big games should frighten the Jayhawks.

If they are able to advance to the Sweet 16, two more tough matchups loom in the South region. Michigan, which has spent much of the season in the AP Top 10, is the fourth seed, and VCU, the talented squad who can play incredible press defense, is the No. 5.

This does not even include conference champions Georgetown and Florida on the bottom half of the bracket.

It is important to remember that Kansas is still one of the best teams in the country. However, facing weaker competition allows a good squad to survive a poor performance. Fans certainly remember losses to Northern Iowa and VCU in the past, not to mention first-round losses to Bucknell and Bradley in 2005 and 2006. 

In this bracket, the Jayhawks cannot afford to have a single bad day. That means they cannot play poor defense like they did against Baylor or struggle to shoot like they did against TCU. 

Based on the team's inconsistency during the season, especially at point guard, it is tough to imagine this squad playing at 100 percent in every game.

Kansas has had a good season, but it is likely to end earlier than expected thanks to an extremely tough set of games ahead.


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