This Kansas University basketball team doesn't do this, and doesn't do that; its inconsistency can drive its coaches and fans nutty. But what these Jayhawks can do is win KU's third NCAA championship because most all the other alleged contenders are as unpredictable.
Defending champion Florida is floundering, but it did that last year before cruising to the title and walloping UCLA in embarrassing fashion in the finale. If you'll recall, KU beat the Gators earlier this season.
UCLA can go on a tear and rip people as Florida did in '06. But it, too, has vulnerabilities that this KU team can exploit if it regroups and somehow finally wins a tournament opener.
Wisconsin has had a nifty year, but can it really pose a title threat without the talented Brian Butch, once recruited by Kansas? He's out of action with a bad elbow. The Big Ten is not loaded, but it certainly has a worthy contender in Ohio State with massive monolith Greg Oden. KU doesn't have any single soul who can handle Oden one-on-one, but there are enough big guys to platoon if the other Buckeyes can be held reasonably in check and our guys avoid stupid fouls.
North Carolina? Coach Roy Williams has been considered a likely champion because of talented 12-man depth. But Old Roy's been finding that you still need to hit free throws to win big ones. The Tar Heels can be as erratic as KU even though Tyler Hansbrough is a wondrous Tasmanian Devil.
Roy sometimes pooh-poohed his teams' weaknesses at the foul line, got mad if it was mentioned. He got a nasty lesson in pragmatism when his '03 club fell, 81-78, to Syracuse in the title game and had a scummy 12-of-30 free-throw performance. Nick Collison went 3-10, Jeff Graves 2-7 and Keith Langford 5-10 - for 17 of the 18 misses. Four more points, KU wins. Free throws have been a Carolina problem, and that's a category where Kansas needs to sharpen up to justify a No. 1 or 2 seeding.
A darkhorse for this year's meet because of its poise, steadiness and marvelous leadership by Acie Law is Texas A&M.; The TexAgs have size, depth and lots of other qualities. KU is blessed that it doesn't have to play Billy Gillispie's club again before the league tournament. This Aggie crew could be a deadly sleeper, but so can the Jayhawk gang.
You knew this year's KU team could be better than the '06 unit when it traded Christian Moody and Jeff Hawkins for Darrell Arthur and Sherron Collins. Sure, these two went into the tank at Oklahoma, but they're for-real warriors who are not likely to do that badly again. You had to be happy for the junior trio of Sasha Kaun, Darnell Jackson and Russell Robinson. But sophomore Brandon Rush has to stop taking disappearing potion and at least come close to his hype. Forget the NBA, kid, and work on your ball-handling, penetration and leadership when it's tough. Think Acie Law.
KU broadcaster Chris Piper offered a perfect depiction of Rush when Brandon recently was having ball-handling problems: a play-finisher, no play-maker.
But whatever its flaws, this versatile KU crew can look around and see lots of warts and zits on the other teams slated to contend for the 2007 college trophy, and conclude it has as good a chance as anyone, win or lose against Texas.
KU wasn't top-ranked in '52; Kansas sprang a huge surprise to win in '88. Who dreamed undersized KU would ever make the finals in 1953? These '07 guys can go equally far if they gut up and ALL show up for crunch-time.