When Kansas makes a run to the national title game, it's generally not a shock. When it comes to March surprises, the Jayhawks seem more apt to make them by being upset by an unheralded squad like Northern Iowa or Bucknell. But not this year. This year the "Cardiac Kids" have been pleasantly surprising fans with a thrilling NCAA run.
The Jayhawks have needed to rally back or overcome some sloppy play in nearly every game throughout the tournament. They get down early, struggle and claw their way back and suddenly reach another gear in the final minutes.
Against Purdue, Kansas had to fight back from a 10-point deficit and needed a clutch shot in the final minute from Elijah Johnson to win 63-60 (Kansas' largest lead of the game). Against N.C. State, Kansas quickly fell behind, 13-3, in the first half. The Jayhawks ended up shooting 1 for 14 from beyond the arc, made just two shots from beyond five feet, and blew an eight-point lead in the final minutes. Nevertheless, they still managed to hold off the Wolfpack. In their latest escape, the Jawhawks overcame a 13-point deficit in the Final Four, only held a lead for 3 minutes, 48 seconds in the entire game and escaped with a 64-62 win.
Tonight, the Jayhawks take on the top-seeded Kentucky Wildcats, a team that they lost to in the second game of the season.
"It was so long ago," Kansas center Jeff Withey said Monday morning, two days after breaking the record for most blocked shots in a Final Four game. "We’re two different teams now. They're obviously a great team and we’ve learned a lot. And tonight we’re gonna play defense like we've never played before."
Comeback kings. Hudini. A team of destiny. Whatever you might call them, the Jawhawks may need to pull off their grandest trick of the season to escape from New Orleans with the national championship.