Battle of the ‘Hawks: Louisiana-Monroe vs. Kansas Preview

No. 5 ranked Kansas will kick off its 2013-2014 season tonight against Louisiana-Monroe.

Coming in as a heavy favorite, the Jayhawks are provided with a good tune-up opportunity before a high-profile clash with Duke in the Champions Classic in Chicago on Tuesday. Louisiana-Monroe is grossly inexperienced and playing in Allen Fieldhouse will be a daunting task for their nine newcomers.

However, Kansas does have a few things to work out before Tuesday. In their two exhibition games, Kansas often looked confused on defensive assignments, something uncharacteristic of Bill Self teams. Also inexperienced, the Jayhawks seem to still be adjusting to the Kansas system of basketball, and will need to get acclimated quickly. All in all, Louisiana-Monroe is exactly what the Jayhawks need to get one more warm up in before playing Duke.

Players to watch:

Kansas:

No. 22 – Andrew Wiggins: Already the focal point of this Kansas team, the eyes of ESPN, NBA executives and the entire country will be glued to Wiggins this entire season. A 6’7 small forward who can really play any position on the court, every defense the Jayhawks face this season will have to focus on the likely 2014 No. 1 draft pick.

No. 21 – Joel Embiid: Though KU lost its top post presence from last season in Jeff Withey, the position is in Joel Embiid’s capable hands. Remarkably, Embiid has only played basketball for three years, he has already shown flashes of brilliance in the two exhibition games. The development of Embiid in Bill Self’s system will be key this season.

Louisiana Monroe:

No. 10 – Amos Olatayo: Olatayo is Louisiana-Monroe’s leading scorer from last season averaging 15.8 points per game. A transfer from Navarro College, Olatayo shined for the Warhawks in his first season on campus. He has a good mid-range game, but isn’t a dangerous threat from beyond the arc.

No. 1 – Jayon James: A 6’6 forward, James is Louisiana-Monroe’s leading rebounder from 2012-2013. He also averages 5.1 assists and is a decent inside scorer. James will be a good test for Joel Embiid and Landen Lucas.

Prediction:

Kansas should win this game going away, but the inexperience of the Jayhawks could keep the Warhawks in it longer than they really should be. Some defensive flaws still show, but KU wins 92-70.