Kansas Poised for Deep Tournament Run
Jayhawks are playing some of the best basketball in the country
By Andrew Curtis
Success is learned through failure. This is especially true for the 2012-2013 Kansas basketball team. In circumstances not seen since the Bush administration, KU managed to lose an unfathomable three games in a row in early February.
Since then, a beast has awoken. Kansas has won its last seven games by an average of 21 points. Granted, five of those games have been at home, but one of them completed a sweep over the team that’s tied for first place with KU atop the Big 12 (for now), Kansas State.
Kansas State faces a stiff road test Saturday at Gallagher-Iba Arena against Oklahoma State. It took KU two overtimes to escape with a win there, so I don’t see any way the Wildcats get out alive against the Cowboys.
In this seven game stretch, the Jayhawks also came away with a comeback win in overtime at Hilton Coliseum over Iowa State. That gives Kansas four of the most impressive road wins this season, at Ohio State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Iowa State.
Saturday in Waco, Kansas will look to clinch its ninth consecutive Big 12 regular season championship. Baylor is a team that Bill Self has particularly dominated throughout his tenure in Lawrence, winning every meeting but one.
Earlier this season, Kansas tamed the Bears and held a talented roster to just 44 points in a Big Monday win at Allen Fieldhouse. I don’t see them having any problem on the road this weekend. This team is as focused as ever and on a mission to deliver the goods in March.
All Kansas has to do is take care of business down the stretch and the stars will align. KU is headed for a number one seed at this rate, barring an unforeseen setback. The Big 12 tourney is next weekend at Sprint Center in Kansas City, then the big dance starts.
The Jayhawks are a virtual lock to play back to back weekends, with one of the opening round venues being in KC. This gives Kansas an excellent shot to make it to the second weekend.
I like this team’s chances to get past the regional final and back to the Final Four for the second year in a row, especially if they get a favorable draw.
Elijah Johnson has his confidence back, and that’s the main key ingredient that the team was missing most of the season. As the team goes, Johnson goes, and he has his swagger back just in time for a deep March run, just like last year.
If he shows his ability to drive to the basket and create for others while knocking down the outside jumper, this team is dangerous and nearly unbeatable.
With the experience in a starting lineup that features four seniors who are all battle tested after playing in last year’s national championship game, the sky is the limit. With a complementary star in the making in star freshman Ben McLemore, the pieces are all there.
Kansas has plenty of unfinished business to take care of, and that starts with claiming what should be theirs on Saturday. The Big 12 runs through Lawrence and the Jayhawks will take that road to Atlanta in a wild ride over the next few weeks.