Even in a year where parity ruled, not much has been expected out of the always-relevant Kansas Jayhawks. This, by all acounts, has been a down year in Lawrence due to the proverbial talent drop-off. Outside of freshman Ben McLemore and senior shot-blocker Jeff Withey, there isn't a singular talent worth following closely.
Top 10 team in the country? Sure. Outright Big 12 champion after sweeping the season series with Kansas State and beating the Wildcats in the conference tournament championship game? Most def. But, until now, this Jayhawks team wasn't at the front of any national conversation, other than to say this isn't your uncle's Kansas.
The highlight of their season was head coach Bill Self calling them the worst Kansas squad since Dr. Naismith had teams losing to the Topeka YMCA. Since a three-game losing streak that included the embarrassing loss to TCU, it's been a success story for this group. Aside from a 13-point road loss to Baylor, the Jayhawks have gone unscathed.
And it was made clear which team was running the league with the most recent win against K-State. The problem is, unlike other years, it isn't saying much being the kingpin of the Big 12. Before Saturday's conference championship game, Kansas hadn't played a ranked team in almost a month, and that was a double-overtime win against No. 14 Oklahoma State.
The Jayhawks get it done with unbelievable defense and make up for inconsistent play at the point guard position in every way they can. Elijah Johnson, bless him, is a constant reminder for this team that there is no Tyshawn Taylor, Sherron Collins, Mario Chalmers, Aaron Miles or Kirk Hinrich walking through the door.