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Kansas Jayhawks
RECORD: 30 - 8 REGION: West  SEED: 2
COACH: Roy Williams CONFERENCE: Big 12

Road to the Final Four  ...................................................................................

Utah State 1st Round W 64 - 61
Arizona State 2nd Round W 108 - 76
Duke Sweet 16 W 69 - 65
Arizona Elite Eight W 78 - 75
Marquette Final Four W 94 - 61
Syracuse Championship L 81 - 78


with Fran Fraschilla


What had been considered the nation's best starting five has been reduced to the best starting four with the season-ending shoulder injury to power forward Wayne Simeon. The Jayhawks may be the thinnest team, in terms of depth, to have a legitimate chance to win the NCAA title. Led by two likely All-Americans in guard Kirk Hinrich and center Nick Collison, rising star Keith Langford, and steady Aaron Miles, this team must stay injury-free and out of serious foul trouble. Jeff Graves, Simeon's replacement, has improved since the start of the season and Michael Lee has been solid in the back court. While Kansas is still an up-tempo team, look for zone defense out of necessity at times during the tournament.

Player to Watch

Nick Collison
Turned in the game of the year when Jayhawks beat Texas on Big Monday classic: 24 points, 23 rebounds in 36 minutes that will be remember in Phog.

Team Statistics
Points Per Game 82.7
Rebounds Per Game 38.8
Assists Per Game 16.3
Steals Per Game 6.9
Blocks Per Game 4.7
Turnovers Per Game 13.1
Field Goal % .487
Free Throw % .666
3-Point % .405
3-Pointers Per Game 9.3
Scoring Margin 17.6

How They Got Here
Back in October, there were few questions about the Jayhawks. Roy Williams team would simply roll through the regular season, put up 30-some victories and then play Arizona for the national title.

While the last part is still possible, there's been a bit more drama than expected. There were early back-to-back losses in the Preseason NIT to North Carolina and Florida. There was a loss to Oregon that left Kansas -- a popular choice as the preseason No. 1 -- at 3-3. And then there was the loss of Wayne Simien for initially 11 games and eventually the rest of the season because of a shoulder injury.

But once Big 12 play, the Jayhawks were very steady. Returning three starters from last season's Final Four team, Kansas can simply score points. Pushing the ball up the floor whenever possible, a 90-point performance isn't out of the question and 80 points has become the norm.

While Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison attract most of the attention, the Jayhawks have seen Keith Langford improve to a 15 points per game scorer. In addition, point guard Aaron Miles has recovered from a slow and crooked-shooting start and is a solid decision-maker.

Kansas did lose its much-anticipated non-conference game with Arizona, and lost to Missouri in the Big 12 semifinals. But the Jayhawks did defeat Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma State.

What We Like
If there's been a constant of late of NCAA champions, it has been key seniors. Michigan State had Mateen Cleaves and Morris Petersen in 2000. Shane Battier led Duke to the 2001 title. Last season it was the Maryland duo of Lonny Baxter and Juan Dixon.

In Collison and Hinrich, the Jayhawks have an inside-outside duo that can score points in bunches and at key points of games. Collison, who can post-up and face the basket, has put up gaudy numbers at times this season (he had 24 points and 23 rebounds in a victory over Texas).

Hinrich is a guard who's quicker and tougher than he looks. He's quick curling off of a screen and is also making more than 43 percent of his three-pointers.

What We Don't Like
With Simien out, the Jayhawks lack depth in the frontcourt. While junior college transfer Jeff Graves has done an admirable job taking Simien's spot in the lineup, Williams doesn't have many options after that. Foul trouble is especially troubling for Kansas and 6-6 Bryant Nash, who played little in last season's Final Four run and is undersized.

  Nick Collison 6-10  255
  Kirk Hinrich 6-4  188
  Keith Langford 6-4  215 Sr
  Wayne Simien 6-9  255 Sr
  Aaron Miles 6-1  175 Sr
  Jeff Graves 6-9  255 Sr
  Michael Lee 6-3  215 Sr
  Bryant Nash 6-6  205 Sr
  Jeff Hawkins 5-11  180 Sr
  Moulaye Niang 6-10  220 Jr
  Stephen Vinson 6-2  195 Sr
  Christian Moody 6-8  225 Sr
  Brett Olson 6-7  220 Sr

@ MissouriW, 79-74   
@ Texas TechW, 65-56   
Oklahoma StateW, 79-61   
Texas A&MW, 85-45   
@ OklahomaL, 77-70   

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AllNight: Kansas forward Nick Collison tells Todd Wright about moving past Duke.
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