Kansas eyes Sweet 16 in Stanford matchup

The Kansas Jayhawks and Stanford Cardinal will battle at 11:15 for the ninth spot in the Sweet 16 and a matchup with the Dayton Flyers next week in Memphis.

Stanford took care of New Mexico on Friday with a 58-53 win over the Lobos. Stanford is no pushover as they have several good wins on the year including the latest Sweet 16 member, UConn, and another Sweet 16 hopeful in UCLA. They also have a couple of bad losses, such as to Oregon State and Washington. Nine of their 12 losses this year are to teams in the RPI Top 50.

Here’s what to watch for:

1) Chasson Randle – If Kansas doesn’t win tomorrow it’ll because Chasson Randle will have had a great game. He averages 18.9 points per game, 3,5 rebounds per game, 2.2 assists per game and shoots an incredible 48.5 percent from the field. The 6-foot-2 junior can score, that’s for sure. He’s scored 20+ points in five of his last six games. He went off for 23 points in their win vs. New Mexico. Additionally, Dwight Powell is very good, as he averages over 14 points and 7 rebounds per game.

2) Defense – KU started off Friday’s game very shaky on defense, allowing Randle to get open for threes. They defended the ball better in the second half, which is a good sign. While I was looking up stats for Stanford, I found this interesting tidbit about Stanford:

  • Stanford is the third-most efficient team in the country on pick-and-roll, ball handler plays, averaging more than a point per play on those plays.
  • Kansas ranks 221st in points per play allowed while defending pick-and-roll, ball handler plays.

Without Embiid, this could be a problem. Pick and rolls killed KU in their loss to K-State in Manhattan and their loss to Florida. Eastern Kentucky did a good job exploiting it, too.

Good news for Kansas is that Stanford doesn’t rely heavily on three-point shooting like Eastern Kentucky. Although, they do shoot a respectful 37.5 percent from beyond the arc.

3) Early game woes – Bill Self wasn’t too pleased to see the 11:15 am start for the Jayhawks. His first reaction was “damn.” He knows it is hard for college kids to get up and be aggressive that early in the day. Wayne Selden said the key to an early game is  “getting up early, getting a good breakfast in you and just playing basketball, because that’s what we love to do.” On the flip side, it may be an advantage to play a West coast team this early because it is 9:15 am their time. KU has played a couple of teams early this year. One of which was against Georgetown, which Selden mentioned. That was one of KU’s best games of the year. If one team starts slow and the other wakes up first, that could be a huge turning point in the game.

Quick Look at Stanford:

  • Conference: Pac-12
  • How’d they make the tournament?: At large bid
  • Regular season record: 21-12
  • Kenpom Ranking: 37
  • Kenpom Offense: 39
  • Kenpom Defense: 60
  • RPI: 41
  • RPI Top 50 record: 6-9
  • Strength of Schedule: 16
  • Good wins: UConn, Oregon, Arizona State (twice), UCLA, New Mexico
  • Bad losses: Oregon St, Washington,
  • Record against 2014 tournament field: 7-6
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