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Kansas Faces Duke Tonight in Maui Final

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Photo Courtesy <a href="http://www.kusports.com" target="new">KUSports.com</a>
Photo Courtesy KUSports.com

For the past several seasons Bill Self has had the Kansas Jayhawks loaded with talent.  During that time some of the complaint about Kansas was that they weren't playing top caliber teams.  That has certainly changed this year.

It wasn't that Self wasn't scheduling tough programs, circumstance just wasn't on the side of the Jayhawks after the schedules were set.  UCLA, Arizona and Memphis are a few examples of games scheduled by Kansas that ultimately turned into easier contests because of the other programs temporary dip. 

That brings us to 2011-2012.  Kansas has more question marks on the roster than many can remember since perhaps Bill Self's first couple of years at Kansas.  And what have the Jayhawks done?  They played no. 2 Kentucky last week in Madison Square Garden and after running through two tough opponents in Georgetown and UCLA the Jayhawks will take on the undefeated no. 6 Duke Blue Devils.

Duke is led offensively by junior Seth Curry.  Curry is the brother of former Davidson standout Stephen Curry, a player that Jayhawk fans should be familiar with from the 2008 title run.  Freshman Austin Rivers is the man at the point and the second leading scorer after arriving as the top recruit in the 2011 class.  On the interior the Blue Devils have the Plumlee twins and an inside/out threat in Ryan Kelly.

It's a team that shoots well, defends well and has the interior presence to make things difficult.  It will be a great test for Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson and the rest of the Jayhawks as they continue to work toward finding out who exactly Kansas is. 

The Jayhawks will need to be great on the defensive end, and they will need to do their best to avoid the occasional offensive drought that has plagued them during the first two games in Maui.  If they can do that, then maybe Kansas can hand Duke and Coach K their first loss ever in Maui.