With the NCAA Tournament Final Four nearly upon us, fans will find themselves looking back at some of the memorable moments of the past decades. There are countless plays, players, and teams that are forever etched in fans’ minds when it comes to March Madness. As the years go by, the memories start to fade. One of the teams you probably forgot about by now is the 2007 Kansas Jayhawks.
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The Preseason Injury
The first thing that fans have to remember when looking back at the Jayhawks is the injury of Brandon Rush. Rush was preparing for the NBA pre-draft camp in Orlando at the time. Rush was supposed to go pro in 2007, but that move had to be postponed because he tore his anterior cruciate ligament. He went through rehab and returned to Kansas. No one knew it back then, but this injury was a blessing in disguise.
A Hot Start
The Jayhawks knew they had something special in the beginning of the season. In two exhibition games, they won by 35 and 37 points, respectively. They held an opponent scoreless in the first five minutes in one of those games. Even when the games started to count, the Jayhawks were up to something good. They won their first 20 contests, and the possibility of having an undefeated regular season were already being discussed.
The hot topic before the game was about Kansas having a 24-game winning streak on the home court of the Kansas State Wildcats. So when the Jayhawks lost to the Wildcats, two streaks were broken including their 20 wins in a row to start the season. This loss, which brought their players back down to earth, would be good for the team in the long run.
The Rest of the Season
Kansas would lose two more games and their record of 20-1 would become 24-3. Something was wrong. Something was off. Players knew this had to change or they would lose control of the season. The solution was a players-only meeting. Each player had something to say, but no feelings were hurt. Everyone understood the goal and the team would never lose again.
After three easy wins in the NCAA Tournament, the team probably wondered if it was going to be this way until the end. The answer came in the following game against the Davidson Wildcats. The Jayhawks were up by two with 16 seconds remaining. The Wildcats had the ball but missed the game-winning three-pointer and gave the close win to Kansas. Their next game, a Final Four match against the North Carolina Tar Heels, was expected to be a tough one. Instead, they somehow ended up winning by 18 points.
The Championship Game: Kansas vs. Memphis
Only the last few minutes of the second half will matter when talking about this championship game. Head coach John Calipari and guard Derrick Rose worked relentlessly and helped give the Memphis Tigers a nine point lead with 2 minutes and 12 seconds remaining. However, the four missed free-throws that followed put them in danger. Mario Chalmers hit a game-tying three-pointer and sent the game into overtime. It was all downhill for Memphis after that. Kansas scored the first six points in the extra period, the Tigers were too stunned to fight back, and the Jayhawks went on to win their first championship since 1988.
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