Big 12 Tournament: Friday Is Statement Day for Kansas Jayhawks

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2010

LAWRENCE, KS - DECEMBER 22: Xavier Henry #1 of the Kansas Jayhawks dribbles the ball during the game against the California Golden Bears on December 22, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

I can't exactly say it's been a shaky year for the Kansas Jayhawks, but I'm sure you'd agree that it has been a roller coaster of emotions for Jayhawks fans nationwide.

From winning to losing to winning again, 2010 has gifted us with so many opportunities to see the Jayhawks shine, and has shown us all why they are national title contenders.

But how far will they really go in the Big 12 tournament?  Many folks are predicting a possible early exit, due to the Jayhawks lackluster play in recent weeks, while others are expecting the same Kansas team to make a strong statement in their opening game against Texas Tech in two days time and let everybody know exactly why they are the No. 1 team in the nation.

Personally, I tend to agree with the second statement.  For a team with this much talent and this much poise to not upset some top contenders on their way to another title, falling short almost seems unimaginable.

However, let's keep in mind that this is college basketball, and if there is any word that is more present in the modern era of the game, it's the word "upset."

Fortunately for the Jayhawks, they haven't had it too tough in the past month.  With a loss to Oklahoma State, followed by a convincing win over first Kansas State and then Missouri, confidence is fairly high heading into the middle of March.

But what about Texas Tech?  Sure this isn't college football, but they can provide some exciting plays when they are at their best.  With a lousy 4-12 record on the year and only a handful of highlight reel plays, the Red Raiders have had their work cut out for them in 2010.

Forward Mike Singletary is one of the few notable players to post considerably decent stats on the year, with 14.9 points per game, accompanied by 6.8 rebounds.  If there is anyone else worthy of mention, it would have to be guard John Robertson, who will have the vital but unpredictable role of keeping Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry at bay.

As for Kansas, well the coaching is there, the talent is there, and the fans are damn sure there.  All that is missing is a stellar performance and a night that sends Allen Fieldhouse into a frenzy as Kansas hopes to further continue its long awaited 2010 journey.

Nearly every position is key for the Jayhawks, but none more so than guard Sheron Collins, who hopes to have another impressive game as he continues to add to his point total of 15.3 per game. 

The highly criticised Aldrich has been cold at times this season, but that occurrence tends to pop up when the Jayhawks play ranked opponents.  Luckily, Texas Tech is nowhere near the Top 25, so expect Alrdrich to have at least 20 points.

All in all, Kansas is looking in tip-top shape.  Arguably not No. 1 seed shape, but tip-top shape nonetheless. 

At the end of the day, though, it is important that Kansas has established that connection with the rest of the league.  At times they have looked lazy and lethargic, now is not the time to let a surging Syracuse, Kentucky, or Duke take hold of the reigns. 

No. 1 is here to stay for Kansas, and they need to prove that this Friday.