The Jayhawks have started conference play 6-0, winning three games on the road. After a visit to Allen Fieldhouse by the Texas Longhorns this Saturday, KU’s schedule gets a whole lot tougher.
Tuesday, January 24th: AT West Virginia
Kansas has not won in Morgantown since the 2013 season, when Jeff Withey starred with 15 points, 7 rebounds, and four blocked shots in a 61-56 victory. The last three seasons have been less than kind to KU on their annual trip to WVU Coliseum. The Mountaineers have defended their home-court against KU with an average victory of 6 points since that 2013 defeat. Per KenPom, West Virginia is currently a 7-point favorite in next Tuesday’s matchup.
Saturday, January 28th: AT Kentucky
The Jayhawks head to Lexington for the annual Big 12/SEC Challenge in a rematch of last year’s thriller at Allen Fieldhouse. Led by Wayne Selden Jr.’s 33 points, it took overtime for KU to defeat Tyler Ulis and Kentucky by a score of 90-84. The return trip to Rupp Arena should treat fans to another high scoring affair between two blue-blood programs. Kentucky’s two losses this season have come by a combined 8 points to third ranked UCLA and 12th ranked Louisville. Per KenPom, Kentucky is also a 7-point favorite in their home matchup against Kansas.
Wednesday, February 1st: HOME vs. Baylor
A return to Allen Fieldhouse will remedy a brutal week of away games, as Kansas hosts 6th ranked Baylor on the first day of February. Scott Drew’s team got blown out in Morgantown, but has recovered nicely with nine and 10 point wins against Kansas State and Texas, respectively. KU’s current 49-game home win streak is the longest running streak in college basketball. Kansas is currently a 4-point favorite in this matchup, per KenPom.
The Big 12 is unquestionably deep this season, with 8 of 10 teams currently boasting winning overall records. In recent years, the formula to winning the Big 12 in twelve straight seasons has been to hold serve at home and to steal a win or two on the road against one of the other Big 12 contenders. As history dictates, winning on the road, especially in conference, is a difficult task to accomplish in college basketball. Thankfully for Kansas, no program in the conference possesses a bigger home court advantage than they do.
While this stretch of tough games may incite fan overreaction (see January 12-25, 2016), it will undoubtedly provide experience that Kansas will benefit from down the stretch of conference play, moving into March.