Preview: #3 Kansas vs. #11 Indiana

Indiana Hoosiers vs. Kansas Jayhawks
November 11, 2016 @ 9 PM
ESPN

The Indiana Hoosiers enter the season ranked 11th in the nation and have a test right out of the gate against the nation’s 3rd best team per the AP Poll. For IU, this will be the highest ranked opponent they face to start a season since the 1975-1976 undefeated season where they beat the #2 ranked UCLA Bruins. The Hoosiers are looking to become back to back conference champions and make an appearance deep in the NCAA tournament. Kansas is coming off a disappointing season as they came up short of the Final Four by losing to eventual NCAA champions Villanova. Still expectations are sky high as Kansas has now won 11 straight conference titles and has added the nation’s #1 high school recruit, Josh Jackson, as well as returning stars with big shoes to fill.

Marquee Matchups

These two teams have talent beyond on the 5 starters that they will put on the floor. This game is full of intriguing matchups. The biggest matchup in this game will be the Hoosier’s Thomas Bryant against the Jayhawk’s Carlton Bragg. Whoever can control the boards will have the upper hand in this game. Secondly, everyone will want to see how the #1 recruit in 2016 Josh Jackson plays in his first game. The top recruit will likely be matched up against the athletic and developing OG Anunoby. The final matchup to watch for is the point guard matchup between Frank Mason III and James Blackmon Jr. Mason is the Jayhawks leading scorer that has returned from last year while Blackmon led the Hoosiers and nation in 3 pointers up until his season ending injury last season. Overall, these two teams are some of the most athletic that the NCAA has to offer this year with fast paced play styles and two of the greatest coaches in basketball.

X-Factor for Hoosiers: Turnovers and Defensive Rebounds

Last year, the Hoosiers averaged 13.5 turnovers a game and have shown a tendency to be careless with the ball in their scrimmages so far this year. If this is to happen tomorrow night Indiana will have a very hard time keeping up with the Jayhawks who were one of the leading teams in steals last year. Also, the Hoosiers must keep Kansas from getting second chance opportunities. With enough size in the post and the front court this shouldn’t be hard, but it is a necessity for the Indiana to come out victorious.

X-Factor for Jayhawks: Sharing the Ball

If one thing stands out about this Kansas basketball team, it is the breadth of talent they have across the board. It all starts at the point guard position with Frank Mason III. Mason can run in transition and knows how to create shots for others as he averaged 5 assists per game last year. Kansas also has a secondary guard in Devonte Graham who is very comfortable handling the ball. Graham is going to be a Junior but is coming off a strong sophomore campaign being selected to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team, Big 12 All-Tournament Team and the Big 12 Championship Most Outstanding Player. If the Jayhawks can spread out IU’s defense and find the holes their chances of winning will increase tremendously.

Key Stat

The key stat to watch will be 3-point shooting. Indiana ranked 5th in the nation last year in 3-point percentage finishing the season at 41.6% behind the line making 345 of the 830 total attempted three pointers. Not to be outdone, Kansas ranked 4th nationally at 41.8% behind the line making 304 of 728 attempts behind the arc. Needless to say, this will be a high scoring affair and both teams will look to hit daggers one after another from the 3-point line in transition as they are known to do. I expect this to be an exciting and fast paced matchup to start the season.

Prediction

Needless to say, this will be a high scoring affair and both teams will look to hit daggers one after another from the 3-point line in transition as they are known to do. I expect this to be an exciting and fast paced matchup to start the season. Final Score: Hoosiers 89, Jayhawks 78

Jacob Lautenschlager
Indiana University | 2020

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