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A look at initial projections for loaded KU basketball squad ahead of 2021-22 season

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) comes in for a dunk against Kansas State forward Kaosi Ezeagu (1) during the second half on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) comes in for a dunk against Kansas State forward Kaosi Ezeagu (1) during the second half on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

A lot can still happen, but the Kansas basketball squad appears to be loaded on paper entering the 2021-22 campaign.

So much so that trying to figure out a rotation or projecting out minutes for individual players seem near impossible, especially with KU having double-digit players worthy of seeing the floor. And good luck trying to pinpoint the team’s leading producers in terms of points, rebounds or assists.

Fortunately for us, Bart Torvik has his initial projections for KU’s squad available over at barttorvik.com. While it is still early and things could always change, this should help provide a glimpse at how it all might shake out for this Kansas roster.

Of note, Torvik has projections for 10 KU players and that list does not include KJ Adams, Bobby Pettiford, Mitch Lightfoot, Chris Teahan, Michael Jankovich or Kyle Cuffe Jr.

Here is a look at Torvik’s projections of Kansas for this upcoming season:

Minutes breakdown

Let’s start with playing time, because that might be more interesting given the depth of this year’s squad. It is important to note that Torvik uses minutes percentage instead of projecting out the exact minutes per game.

Ochai Agbaji is projected to lead the Jayhawks in playing time, posting a minutes percentage of 82% for his final year in Lawrence. That would actually be a drop in playing time for Agbaji, who played 84.6% of KU’s minutes last year and 83.6% of the team’s minutes as a sophomore.

Junior Christian Braun has the next-highest expected playing time, with a minutes rate of 77% this year. Like Agbaji, that is down from last season when Braun logged 78.3% of the team’s minutes during a 21-9 campaign.

Remy Martin, a big-time transfer guard from Arizona State, is projected to play 73% of the team’s minutes in his lone season at Kansas. The point guard played 76.3% of the team’s minutes last year, which was his lowest mark for ASU over the last three seasons.

Jalen Wilson comes in with a minutes rate of 70%, while transfer Jalen Coleman-Lands is projected for 67% of the team’s minutes. Kansas big man David McCormack is projected to play 54.5% of the team’s minutes after a rate of 55.9% last year.

No other KU player has more than a 31% minutes rate entering this season.

Scoring leaders

The Jayhawks should be balanced this year, with many of the same names expected to be among the scoring leaders. Agbaji has a narrow lead on Torvik’s initial projections with an average of 14.2 points per game, while Martin is right behind with an average of 14.1 points per contest.

Agbaji has averaged double figures in each of the last two seasons, producing 14.1 points per outing during his junior campaign. Martin, meanwhile, has scored 14.9 points per game over the course of his collegiate career. He averaged 19.1 points per contest for ASU in each of the last two years.

While those two players might be favored to lead the team in scoring, Wilson is not far behind with a projected scoring average of 12.1 points per outing. Wilson is coming off his first real season at the collegiate level, where he finished with an average of 11.8 points per contest.

Braun is the only other KU player expected to average in double figures, with a projected scoring clip of 10.9 points per game. McCormack, who averaged 13.4 points per outing last year, has a predicted scoring average of 7.9 points per game.

Torvik’s projection would match the total number of players who averaged in double figures last year, when Agbaji, McCormack, Wilson and Marcus Garrett all accomplished that feat for the Jayhawks.

Key producers in rebounds and assists

As for the other main categories, a variety of players are expected to make an impact on the glass and setting their teammates up.

Wilson is projected to pace the team in rebounding with an average of 7.1 rebounds per game. It would mark the second consecutive season that Wilson has done that, as he led KU with 7.9 rebounds per outing last year.

McCormack is projected to average 5.9 rebounds per contest, while Braun comes in third as a guard with an average of 4.7 rebounds per game.

Unsurprisingly, Martin is expected to lead Kansas with an average of 3.2 assists per outing. He’s averaged 3.9 assists per contest in his career, which includes a sophomore season where he averaged 5.0 dimes per game.

Wilson and Agbaji are tied for second with a projected average of 2.0 assists per game for this upcoming season.

Reply 2 comments from Robert  Brock Dirk Medema

Kansas basketball has national title odds cut in half at one online sportsbook

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) soars in for a breakaway dunk against UTEP guard Keonte Kennedy (3) during the second half on Thursday, March 4, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) soars in for a breakaway dunk against UTEP guard Keonte Kennedy (3) during the second half on Thursday, March 4, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

In a matter of three months, the Kansas men’s basketball team has catapulted from possible contender to an early favorite entering the 2021-22 campaign.

Remy Martin and Ochai Agbaji both announced they were withdrawing from the NBA Draft to return to KU on Tuesday, which meant that this roster finally appears to be set. So it was a good time to view the updated betting odds for the upcoming season.

According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Jayhawks are currently +900 to win the national title next April. They are +200 to make the Final Four, which is something this team hasn’t done since 2018. Both numbers put Kansas behind only Gonzaga and Michigan as of Wednesday morning.

Gonzaga, which is coming off a 86-70 loss to Baylor in the 2021 national championship game, is +700 to win the championship and +150 to make it to the Final Four. Michigan is +800 to win next year’s tournament, and +175 to advance to the semifinals.

KU’s odds have been cut in half since the offseason began. When DraftKings released its opening odds for the 2021-22 season on April 5, Kansas was listed at +1800 to cut down the nets.

Six squads were listed ahead of the Jayhawks when odds were first released. Gonzaga was still the favorite at +900, followed by Baylor, Florida State and Michigan who all came in at +1200. Ohio State and Villanova both started with +1400 odds to win the national title.

Not all those teams are still around in the updated odds, however. Villanova matches Kansas with a +900 future to win the national championship. Kentucky and Texas are both currently listed at +1200, while Duke and Purdue come in at +1300. Alabama and Ohio State have +1400 odds to win it all.

The Jayhawks didn’t cut their odds in half because of a few players coming back, though that certainly helped their prospects for the upcoming season. This offseason has featured a massive roster overhaul since Kansas was throttled in a 85-51 loss to USC in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last March.

Kansas will have 10 players who are new to the program this winter, a list that included eight scholarship players and two walk-ons. While it might take time for this team to come together, it is a roster that features plenty of firepower on paper.

That’s why KU will continue to be listed among the favorites at all these sportsbooks. And, if certain places are slow to recognize that Kansas has revamped its roster, it might not be a bad idea to take advantage of a good number.

NCAA title odds on DraftKings Sportsbook

Gonzaga +700

Michigan +800

Kansas +900

Villanova +900

Kentucky +1200

Texas +1200

Duke +1300

Purdue +1300

Alabama +1400

Ohio State +1400

Houston +1800

Arkansas +2000

Baylor +2000

Louisville +2000

Oregon +2000

UCLA +2000

Virginia Tech +2000

West Virginia +2000

Florida State +2500

Oklahoma +2500

USC +25000

Wisconsin +2500

Creighton +3000

LSU +3000

Michigan State +3000

Tennessee +3000

Reply 1 comment from Rodney Crain

Getting to know: USC basketball, Round 2 NCAA Tournament

USC forward Max Agbonkpolo (23) and Evan Mobley (4) defend Drake guard D.J. Wilkins (0) during the second half of a men's college basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

USC forward Max Agbonkpolo (23) and Evan Mobley (4) defend Drake guard D.J. Wilkins (0) during the second half of a men's college basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

This isn’t your typical second-round matchup, when third-seeded Kansas faces six-seeded USC tonight for a spot in the Sweet 16.

For one, the Trojans are actually favored even though they are the lower seed. The spread is -1.5 in USC’s direction, while KenPom gives Kansas a 41% chance of victory in this one. His model projects a 68-65 win for the Trojans.

It all means the Jayhawks, who consistently make it past the first weekend in March, are a slight underdog in this matchup. That has a lot to do with KU’s roster situation because of COVID-19 issues, but USC is also very capable in its own right.

The Trojans (23-7) have won four of their last five entering this matchup, including a 72-56 victory over Drake in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Tonight’s game inside Hinkle Fieldhouse will begin at 8:40 p.m. and be televised on CBS.

As a reminder, log on to KUsports.com for our live game blog coverage and follow the KUsports.com staff on Twitter: @KUSports @mctait @bentonasmith & @SJacksonLJW

BREAKING DOWN USC

TOP PLAYER

No. 4 — F Evan Mobley | 7-0, 215, fr.

Even with a complete roster, the Jayhawks would have their hands full with the 7-foot, 215-pound freshman forward.

Mobley, who is the first-ever No. 1-ranked recruit to sign with USC, is a dominant scorer and excellent defender in the post. He leads the Trojans with an average of 16.8 points per game, while also pacing the team with 8.7 rebounds per outing.

On defense, Mobley produces a team-high 3.0 blocks per outing. He’s averaging 34.1 minutes per game, shooting 57.9% from the floor. Per KenPom, Mobley’s block rate of 9.2% is the 31st-best clip in the nation.

This will be the second set of brothers that KU has to face, as Evan has an older brother, Isaiah, who is a sophomore on the USC basketball team. Evan Mobley is coming off a 17-point, 11-rebound performance against Drake.

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 2 — G Tahj Eaddy | 6-2, 165, sr.

Eaddy enters tonight’s matchup as one of three players to average in double figures for the Trojans.

So far this season, Eaddy is second on the squad in scoring with an average of 13.5 points per game. He’s also leading the team with 2.8 assists per outing. Eaddy is shooting 44.6% from the floor, including 38.6% from long range.

The game against Drake, in which he scored 9 points, was the first time Eaddy didn’t reach double figures since Feb. 27. Per KenPom, Eaddy plays 79.4% of his team’s minutes and has an offensive rating of 116.7.

Eaddy began his career at Southeast Missouri State before transferring to Santa Clara.

No. 13 — G Drew Peterson | 6-8, 195, jr.

Coming in at third on the team in scoring is Peterson.

The junior guard is averaging exactly 10.0 points per game while shooting 42.7% from the floor. He’s also knocking down 37.3% of his 3-point baskets. In addition, Peterson is averaging 4.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists per outing entering tonight.

Last time out, Peterson poured in 14 points for the Trojans in their win over Drake. He’s reached double figures in four of his last five games.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NbbCYYxF_s

ONE THING USC DOES WELL

Given their length across the board, the Trojans naturally fare well in 2-point defense. They allow teams to shoot 41.7% on 2-point shots, which is ranked No. 2 in the nation and about 8% better than the national average.

ONE AREA USC STRUGGLES

If the game comes down to free throws, USC could be in trouble. The Trojans are shooting 64.5% from the free throw line this year. That number ranks 328th in the country and is about 7% below the average clip for a DI basketball team.

MEET THE COACH

The Trojans are coached by Andy Enfield, who is 155-109 in his eighth season at USC.

VEGAS SAYS

USC is only a slight favorite in this one, favored by a 1.5-point margin, but it is telling on the expectations for this game. It just seems difficult to predict a KU victory in this case.

There is no guarantee that David McCormack can have a similar role to the one he had two days ago, especially with a tougher matchup. And just because McCormack had a gutsy performance in his return, that doesn’t mean Jalen Wilson will do the same.

So I’m taking USC. It wouldn’t completely shock me if KU pulls this out, but I’m just not predicting it. It should be a good game either way.

My prediction: USC 73, Kansas 69

Reply 2 comments from Dirk Medema Dale Rogers

Getting to know: Eastern Washington basketball, Round 1 NCAA Tournament

Eastern Washington head coach Shantay Legans talks to his players during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arizona, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Eastern Washington head coach Shantay Legans talks to his players during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arizona, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

For the first time in 24 months, it is time to take a closer look at a team that Kansas basketball will be facing in the NCAA Tournament.

Unlike when we did our Northeastern breakdown in March of 2019, it doesn’t appear that Eastern Washington is a trendy pick to upset KU this year. Maybe I’m just not paying attention to the right bracket analysis, but it certainly feels like the discussion has been more about the Jayhawks and who they won’t have available this weekend.

But let’s turn our attention to Eastern Washington for the purpose of this blog, and see if the Big Sky champion has what it takes to knock off Kansas in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Tipoff for Saturday’s game is slated for 12:15 p.m., and will be televised on TBS.

The Eagles have only lost one game since Jan. 22, and enter the tourney on a four-game win streak. They went 12-3 during conference play after losing their first three games to start the season. One of those losses was a 70-67 defeat to Arizona, as Benton Smith wrote about earlier this week.

KenPom gives Eastern Washington a 17% chance of victory in this game, projecting a 78-67 win for Kansas. After this quick breakdown, we will decide if those numbers seem right and whether or not we should bet on a given side in this one.

As a reminder, log on to KUsports.com for our live game blog coverage and follow the KUsports.com staff on Twitter: @KUSports @mctait @bentonasmith & @SJacksonLJW

BREAKING DOWN EASTERN WASHINGTON

TOP PLAYER

No. 35 — F Tanner Groves | 6-9, 235, jr.

Eastern Washington forward Tanner Groves shoots over Arizona forward Ira Lee (11) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. Arizona won 70-67. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Eastern Washington forward Tanner Groves shoots over Arizona forward Ira Lee (11) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. Arizona won 70-67. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

As the Big Sky MVP, Groves will play a huge part in whether or not Eastern Washington is able to earn its first-ever win in the NCAA Tournament.

This season, the EWU big man is averaging 16.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game while shooting 55.7% from the floor. He’s coming off a 14-point, 14-rebound effort against Montana State in the Big Sky championship.

According to KenPom, Groves takes 28% of Eastern Washington’s shots and has an offensive rating of 116.4. Both of those numbers rank inside the top-200 in the nation. His defensive rebound rate of 26.8% is the 27th-best mark in the country.

Groves came off the bench last year, but has been instrumental in getting the Eagles back to the NCAA tourney for the first time since 2015.

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 24 — G Kim Aiken | 6-7, 215, jr.

Eastern Washington guard Kim Aiken Jr. (24) drives past Arizona forward Ira Lee (11) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. Arizona won 70-67. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Eastern Washington guard Kim Aiken Jr. (24) drives past Arizona forward Ira Lee (11) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz. Arizona won 70-67. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Aiken is almost always on the floor for the Eagles, averaging a team-high 30.4 minutes per game this season.

That’s really because of how much Aiken does for Eastern Washington when he’s in the game. Not only does Aiken average 11.7 points per game, but he also produces 8.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per contest.

Aiken is coming off back-to-back double-digit rebound performances, and has a total of 42 rebounds over his last four outings. That is certainly something to be concerned about, considering KU will likely struggle on the glass without Jalen Wilson.

Per KenPom, Aiken’s defensive rebound rate of 23.4% ranks 87th among all individual players in college basketball.

No. 15 — G Tyler Robertson | 6-6, 200, so.

While also being one of five players to average in double figures, Robertson makes his biggest contribution as a passer.

Robertson leads EWU with an average of 3.0 assists per contest, as no other player has more than 2.2 assists per game. Robertson has dished out 11 assists over his last three games, a stretch that also included an 18-point performance.

This season, Robertson is averaging 11.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. He’s also shooting 46.3% from the floor, which includes a 39.5% clip from long range.

In terms of KenPom numbers, Robertson’s best metric is offensive rating, where he ranks 156th in the country with an offensive rating of 117.6. Robertson is also shooting 85% from the free throw line this year.

ONE THING EASTERN WASHINGTON DOES WELL

Shooting. Eastern Washington ranks inside the top-72 in most shooting metrics, posting a 35.9% clip on 3-point attempts and a 54.2% mark on 2-point attempts. EWU’s effective field goal percentage of 54.1% ranks 37th in the nation.

ONE AREA EASTERN WASHINGTON STRUGGLES

The Eagles won’t force a lot of turnovers on the defensive end. They have posted a turnover rate of 16.5% this year, a number that ranks 301st in the nation. EWU’s steal rate of 6.8% is 316th in the country.

MEET THE COACH

The Eagles are coached by Shantay Legans, who is 75-48 in his fourth season at EWU and fourth season as a head coach.

VEGAS SAYS

Kansas a 10.5-point favorite over Eastern Washington on most sportsbooks as of Friday night. Full disclosure: I picked EWU to defeat KU in my lone bracket this year. While that has more to do with trying to find leverage in a pool, I do think Kansas could be tested in this one. So, for my official pick, I’ll take the points in a victory for the Jayhawks.

Prediction: Kansas 77, Eastern Washington 70

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Getting to know: Iowa State basketball

Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm, left, greets Kansas head coach Bill Self before an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, in Ames, Iowa.

Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm, left, greets Kansas head coach Bill Self before an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, in Ames, Iowa. by AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

The Kansas men’s basketball team prepares for a rare back-to-back stretch against the same opponent, starting tonight when it welcomes Iowa State to Allen Fieldhouse.

After tonight’s battle in Lawrence, KU and Iowa State will have just one day off before both teams square off again. The rematch will then take place at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa on Saturday.

There are benefits and challenges for both teams to have to play such a stretch. Fortunately for each squad, they will be on an even playing field in that regard.

These teams are not even in terms of where they are at in the standings, however. While winning the Big 12 is probably off the table, Kansas (13-7, 7-5) is still aiming for a high finish in the conference.

Iowa State, meanwhile, is just looking to get in the win column during league play. The Cyclones are 0-9 against conference opponents after winning just two games in nonconference action. ISU is 2-12 overall on the year.

Tipoff for tonight is slated for 6 p.m., while Saturday’s game will begin at 2 p.m. The former will be televised on ESPN, while the latter will be televised on ABC.

Log on to KUsports.com for our live game blog coverage and follow the KUsports.com staff on Twitter: @KUSports @mctait @bentonasmith & @SJacksonLJW

BREAKING DOWN IOWA STATE

TOP PLAYER

No. 45 — G Rasir Bolton | 6-3, 185, jr.

Bolton has been Iowa State’s best player during a rough season because of what he provides as a scorer.

This season, Bolton is leading the team in scoring with an average of 16.6 points per game while shooting 46.1% from the floor. Bolton has reached double figures in 13 of the 14 games this year for the Cyclones.

Bolton, who has eclipsed over 1,000 points in his career, is actually averaging 20 points per outing over the last four contests. He averaged 14.7 points per game last year after transferring from Penn State, which led to him making the All-Big 12 honorable mention team.

In addition, Bolton leads this year’s Iowa State squad in rebounds (5.3 per game), assists (4.5 per game) and steals (1.8 per game) entering this series against Kansas.

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 5 — G Jalen Coleman-Lands | 6-4, 187, sr.

As one of four players to average double figures for the Cyclones, Coleman-Lands is second on the team in scoring ahead of this week’s two-game stretch.

Coleman-Lands, who has played in 13 contests this year, is averaging 11.9 points per game. It’s worth noting that two other ISU players average 11.8 points per outing and 11.7 points per game, so Coleman-Lands’ claim for second-leading scorer isn’t very strong.

The graduate transfer has scored 1,215 points in his career and ranks seventh among active players with 123 career games played. He has reached double figures in all but two games this season for the Cyclones.

Prior to coming to Iowa State, Coleman-Lands was at DePaul for a few seasons after originally starting his collegiate career at Illinois. For his career, Coleman-Lands has averaged 10.0 points per game with this season being his best scoring mark.

None by NCAA March Madness

No. 33 — F Solomon Young | 6-8, 255, sr.

Young is fourth on the team in scoring with an average of 11.7 points per contest for the Cyclones.

This year, Young has played in 12 games after missing contests against Oklahoma State and Mississippi State due to health and safety protocols. This is Young’s fifth season with the program after taking a medical redshirt in 2018-19.

Young, who has a wingspan of 7-foot-1 according to Iowa State’s game notes, is averaging 4.9 rebounds per outing to go along with nearly a block per contest.

ONE THING IOWA STATE DOES WELL

The Cyclones have done a solid job at the free throw line, shooting 75.1% from the charity stripe on the year. It is a mark that ranks 52nd in all of college basketball.

ONE AREA IOWA STATE STRUGGLES

Opposing teams have dominated the glass against the Cyclones, who have allowed opponents to record an offensive rebound rate of 36.1% this year. For comparison, the national average offensive rebound rate is 28% and ISU’s mark actually ranks 343rd in the country.

MEET THE COACH

Iowa State is coached by Steve Prohm, who is 97-85 in his sixth season at ISU and 201-114 in his 10th season overall.

VEGAS SAYS

As of Thursday morning, Kansas is a 15-point favorite over Iowa State on FanDuel’s Sportsbook. That number is a bit higher than KenPom has it, as his system projects a 78-65 win for KU. KenPom currently projects a 76-67 victory for Kansas on Saturday as well.

In terms of this game, though, the 15-point spread seems a bit too high for me. The Cyclones have been more competitive of late, suffering single-digit losses to West Virginia, Oklahoma and TCU over the last three games.

So I’m taking the points, but expecting a comfortable KU victory in the end.

Prediction: Kansas 79, Iowa State 68

Reply 2 comments from John Strayer Robert  Brock

Getting to know: Baylor basketball

Baylor guard Jared Butler (12) gets around Kansas guard Marcus Garrett (0) as he heads to the bucket during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Baylor guard Jared Butler (12) gets around Kansas guard Marcus Garrett (0) as he heads to the bucket during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

After getting the weekend off, No. 9 Kansas is set to face No. 2 Baylor in a Big Monday matchup in Waco, Texas. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN.

The Jayhawks (10-3, 4-2 Big 12) had their home game against Iowa State postponed due to COVID-19 protocols in the ISU program. That means it has been nearly a week since KU dropped a 75-70 decision at Oklahoma State on Jan. 12.

Some extra rest could be a good thing because Baylor (12-0, 5-0 Big 12) is the last remaining undefeated Power Five program. BU is coming off a 68-60 road win over Texas Tech this past weekend. The Bears are the nation’s only team to win every game by at least eight points this season.

Eight of the previous 10 meetings between these two teams have been decided by eight points or less, but nobody seems to believe that will be the case this time around. KenPom gives Baylor a 80% chance of victory and a projected victory of 76-66.

Kansas opened as a 10-point underdog in Vegas, but that line is down to 8.5 points on FanDuel Sportsbook as of Monday afternoon.

Log on to KUsports.com for our live game blog coverage and follow the KUsports.com staff on Twitter: @KUSports @mctait @bentonasmith & @SJacksonLJW

BREAKING DOWN BAYLOR

TOP PLAYER

No. 12 — G Jared Butler | 6-3, 195, jr.

It is no secret that any hope of stopping Baylor should begin with a game plan against Jared Butler.

Butler is back after becoming Baylor’s first underclassman to earn All-America or All-Conference first-team honors since 1980. And he’s even better this year. Butler ranks top-8 in the Big 12 in steals (1st), assists (3rd), scoring (5th), FG% (5th) and A-T ratio (8th).

Through 12 games, Butler is averaging 15.6 points per game to go along with 5.2 assists and 2.5 steals per contest. He’s shooting 47.2% from the floor, including a clip of 41.5% from beyond the arc.

Butler has 13 career games with at least 20 points, which includes a pair of 30-point performances. According to KenPom, Butler’s steal rate (5.0) ranks 17th in the nation and his assist rate (31.1) is 76th in the country.

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 31 — G MaCio Teague | 6-4, 195, sr.

The difficult thing about defending Baylor is that containing Butler is not nearly enough. MaCio Teague is averaging 15.3 points per contest during his senior season. That clip ranks sixth in the Big 12 in scoring.

Teague has earned all-conference honors in all three collegiate seasons thus far, and likely will make it four for four. He was All-Big South First Team in 2017 and 2018 at UNC Asheville and All-Big 12 Second Team last year at Baylor.

Teague is the nation’s only active player with 1,500+ career points (1,653), 400+ rebounds (479), 225+ assists (244), 125+ steals (126) and 200+ made 3-pointers (250). He has also led the Bears in scoring in 11 of his last 24 games, which includes five different outings this season.

According to KenPom, Teague has a true shooting percentage of 60.3% and he plays 76.9% of Baylor’s minutes.

No. 45 — G Davion Mitchell | 6-2, 205, jr.

Back for another year as the starting point guard, Mitchell leads the conference in assists with an average of 5.9 per game.

Mitchell, who came off the bench for Auburn in 2017-18, has started in all 42 games at Baylor since joining the program. He was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year last season, while also earning a spot on the Big 12 All-Defensive Team and the All-Big 12 third team.

Mitchell also ranks second in the league in steals with an average of 2.2 per game. He’s made a 3-pointer in 30 of his last 38 games, shooting 37% from long range over that span.

Per KenPom, Mitchell has a true shooting percentage of 63.4% and ranks 131st in the nation in that department.

ONE THING BAYLOR DOES WELL

Baylor does a lot of things well, but 3-point shooting is the lone offensive category that Baylor is in the top-five on KenPom. The Bears are hitting 42.3% of their attempts from long range, which ranks fourth in the nation.

ONE AREA BAYLOR STRUGGLES

The Bears are allowing opposing teams to post a 9.4% block rate, a number that ranks 214th in the country. For comparison, the D1 average block rate is 8.8%. Yes, it was hard to come up with a way that Baylor struggles.

MEET THE COACH

The Bears are coached by Scott Drew, who is 354-213 in his 18th season at BU and 373-224 in 19th season overall.

VEGAS SAYS

This just feels like a trap. The Jayhawks are obviously never underdogs like this, and it almost feels like you are being tricked into taking the points because of that. At the same time, Baylor is a very good basketball team and there is a reason why it has won every game by at least eight points.

All that said, I’m falling for the trap. I’m taking the points for a Bill Self-led team coming off a loss and having a few extra days to prepare. There really is no other logic behind this pick.

Prediction: Baylor 78, Kansas 72

Reply 4 comments from Surrealku Robert  Brock

Getting to know: Iowa State basketball (postponed)

Kansas forward David McCormack reacts after dunking over Iowa State forward Solomon Young, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Kansas forward David McCormack reacts after dunking over Iowa State forward Solomon Young, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) by Associated Press

KU-IOWA STATE POSTPONED

Saturday's home game between No. 6 Kansas and Iowa State was postponed Friday evening because of COVID-19 protocol issues within the ISU program. No make-up date has been announced, but the schools plan to work with the Big 12 Conference to reschedule the game. KU now will play next Monday night at No. 2 Baylor in Waco, Texas.

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No. 6 Kansas will look to put Tuesday’s loss in the rearview mirror when it plays host to Iowa State Saturday afternoon in Allen Fieldhouse.

The Jayhawks are coming off a 75-70 road loss to Oklahoma State, marking their second conference defeat this month. KU has dropped two of its last four games, and is 10-3 on the year with a 4-2 clip in Big 12 play.

Iowa State (2-7, 0-5 Big 12) is looking to end a three-game losing skid after its 91-64 loss to No. 18 Texas Tech last weekend. The Cyclones have also fallen to Baylor and Texas over this recent stretch. Those are the only three games ISU has played in during the month of January thus far.

According to KenPom, Kansas has a 87% chance of victory against Iowa State this weekend. KU is projected to earn a 77-64 win in its final game before facing Baylor on Monday.

Tipoff will begin at 1 p.m., and the game will be televised on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

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BREAKING DOWN IOWA STATE

TOP PLAYER

No. 45 — G Rasir Bolton | 6-3, 185, jr.

Kansas guard Devon Dotson, center, drives to the basket between Iowa State's Rasir Bolton, left, and Tre Jackson during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Kansas guard Devon Dotson, center, drives to the basket between Iowa State's Rasir Bolton, left, and Tre Jackson during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) by Associated Press

Bolton is off to a strong start to his junior season, leading the Cyclones in multiple statistical categories through nine games.

Entering this weekend, Bolton is averaging 14.8 points per game to go along with 4.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists per contest. He’s also averaging 1.8 steals per outing, while shooting 48.6% from the floor.

Bolton, who averaged 14.7 points per game a year ago, has scored in double figures in 20 of his last 22 appearances. He ranks among the top-10 in school history shooting 84.8 percent at the charity stripe in his Cyclone career.

Last time out, Bolton scored 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting in the loss to Texas Tech. He has scored in double figures in three consecutive contests ahead of this weekend.

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 33 — F Solomon Young | 6-8, 255, r-sr.

The Iowa State big man is back for a fifth season, and he’s putting together a solid campaign in the process.

Young is averaging a career-best 12 points per game this season. He’s one of four ISU players to average double figures in scoring. Young is also providing a team-high 5.2 rebounds per contest and shooting 57.3% from the field.

During this recent stretch, Young has really seemed to get things going. He’s scored in double figures in four consecutive games, which matches the longest streak of his career. Young registered 15 points against TTU last weekend.

No. 5 — G Jalen Coleman-Lands | 6-4, 187, sr.

Ranked second on the team in scoring, Coleman-Lands is averaging 12.7 points per contest for the Cyclones this year.

In nine games, Coleman-Lands is playing 33.4 minutes per outing and contributing in more ways than one. He’s averaged 4.3 rebounds per contest, while knocking down 46.3% of his shots and 100% of his attempts at the charity stripe this season.

Coleman-Lands has been a nice addition for the Cyclones as a graduate transfer, providing experience in the backcourt. He actually ranks among the nation’s leaders in career games played and 3-pointers made.

Coleman-Lands has even drilled a 3-pointer in every game this season for ISU.

ONE THING ISU DOES WELL

The Cyclones do a good job of defending the 3-point line so far this season. Opposing teams are shooting 28.3% from three-point range, a number that ranks 26th in the nation.

ONE AREA ISU STRUGGLES

Iowa State doesn’t do well on the glass on either end of the floor. ISU has an offensive rebound rate of 23.8%, which ranks 266th in the country. ISU is also allowing an offensive rebound rate of 33.3%, and that ranks 309th in all of college basketball.

MEET THE COACH

Iowa State is coached by Steve Prohm, who is 97-80 in his sixth season at ISU and 201-109 in his 10th season overall.

VEGAS SAYS

According to FanDuel’s Sportsbook, Kansas is a 13.5-point favorite over Iowa State as of Friday evening. The Cyclones are struggling, and the Jayhawks will be looking to put their recent loss behind them. But this is too many points, even at home. I’ll take Iowa State to cover, but KU still wins by a comfortable margin.

Prediction: Kansas 77, Iowa State 68

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Getting to know: Oklahoma State basketball

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) comes out to defend against a three from Oklahoma State guard Isaac Likekele (13) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) comes out to defend against a three from Oklahoma State guard Isaac Likekele (13) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

No. 6 Kansas is back on the road Tuesday when it travels to Stillwater, Oklahoma to take on Oklahoma State inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.

This conference clash will begin at 7 p.m. and will be broadcasted on Big 12 Now over on ESPN+.

Kansas (10-2, 4-1 Big 12) has won back-to-back games since falling to Texas at home. KU defeated a shorthanded Oklahoma squad by a 63-59 margin on Saturday.

The Jayhawks would break a league record of consecutive road conference victories with a win tonight. Kansas has won 11 in a row away from home against league opponents, a stretch that matches its previous record.

Oklahoma State (8-3, 2-3 Big 12), on the other hand, is coming off a 70-54 road win over Kansas State on Saturday. OSU connected on its final 13 shots to ultimately finish off Kansas State for its second league win of the season.

KenPom gives Kansas a 56% chance of victory tonight. His model projects KU to earn a 72-71 win in Stillwater.

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BREAKING DOWN OSU

TOP PLAYER

No. 2 — G Cade Cunningham | 6-8, 220, fr.

The scouting report on Oklahoma State has to start with Cade Cunningham, who is currently projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

So far in 11 games at the collegiate level, Cunningham has been as advertised. He’s averaged 17.4 points per game to lead the way for OSU, while also posting an average of 6.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists per contest. Cunningham is averaging 33.4 minutes per outing.

Cunningham can get to the rim with ease, and he’s a phenomenal passer. Cunningham’s best performance so far was when he poured in 29 points on Oral Roberts. It was the most by an OSU player since Jawun Evans scored 30 against UNC in the Maui Invitational on Nov. 22, 2016.

Cunningham was the 2020 Naismith High School Player of the Year in his final prep season.

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 13 — G Isaac Likekele | 6-5, 215, jr.

The Cowboys only have two players averaging in double figures in scoring and Isaac Likekele is one of them.

Likekele is averaging 12.3 points per contest, but his rebounding as a guard is especially impressive. Likekele is third in the Big 12 in rebounds per game with an average of 8.1 rebounds per contest. He’s also dishing out 3.5 assists per game.

In addition, Likekele takes efficient shots. He’s first in the league with a 59.6% field goal percentage. He was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection as a sophomore last season, but he has taken a big leap this year.

No. 14 — G Bryce Williams | 6-2, 180, sr.

There is plenty of balance for the Cowboys after their top-two players, so let’s highlight Bryce Williams because of his defensive play.

Williams is averaging 1.4 steals per game, which ranks 11th in the Big 12. He’s a pesky defender that should create problems for members of KU’s backcourt tonight. Because of his defensive play, Williams is among the OSU leaders in plus/minus per 40 minutes with a mark of +8.3.

The Cowboys in general have had a solid defense. They force 14.4 turnover per game and are holding opponents to a 39.8% field goal percentage from the floor.

ONE THING OSU DOES WELL

The Cowboys do a good job of crashing the glass. They have a 32.2% offensive rebound rate, which ranks 67th in the nation.

ONE AREA OSU STRUGGLES

Oklahoma State is not a great 3-point shooting team, to say the least. The Cowboys are hitting 31.6% of their shots from long range, which ranks 232nd in the nation.

MEET THE COACH

The Cowboys are coached by Mike Boynton Jr., who is 59-52 in his fourth season at OSU.

VEGAS SAYS

According to FanDuel’s Sportsbook, Kansas is considered a 3.5-point favorite over Oklahoma State as of Tuesday morning. I know KenPom has this closer, but I’m going to lay the points in this one. Jalen Wilson didn’t have his best game on Saturday, and a strong bounce back by him should lead to more of a comfortable win for KU.

Prediction: Kansas 75, OSU 69

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Getting to know: TCU basketball

TCU guard RJ Nembhard (22) shoots after getting past North Dakota State guard Maleeck Harden-Hayes, rear, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Fort Worth, Texas, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

TCU guard RJ Nembhard (22) shoots after getting past North Dakota State guard Maleeck Harden-Hayes, rear, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Fort Worth, Texas, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) by Associated Press

Coming off a conference loss, No. 6 Kansas will look to bounce back on the road against TCU on Tuesday. Tipoff is slated for 9 p.m. in Ed & Rae Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

Last time out, the Jayhawks (8-2, 2-1 Big 12) suffered a 84-59 loss to Texas in Allen Fieldhouse this past weekend. TCU (9-2, 2-1 Big 12), meanwhile, is riding a five-game win streak after its 67-60 victory at Kansas State on Saturday.

Despite recent results, KU is expected to win this game. According to KenPom, Kansas has a 65% chance of victory and is projected to win by a 71-67 margin. Torvik gives the Jayhawks a 60% chance to defeat the Horned Frogs.

All of that makes sense when you consider how good KU has been coming off a loss under Bill Self. With Self at the helm, KU is 97-13 following a defeat and is even better over the last six-plus seasons by posting a 46-5 clip over that span.

The game will air on ESPN with Mark Neely and Fran Fraschilla on the call.

Log on to KUsports.com for our live game blog coverage and follow the KUsports.com staff on Twitter: @KUSports @mctait @bentonasmith & @SJacksonLJW

BREAKING DOWN TCU

TOP PLAYER

No. 22 — G RJ Nembhard | 6-5, 195, jr.

TCU has a talented backcourt, which is led by junior guard RJ Nembhard.

Nembhard leads the Big 12 in scoring with 18.7 points per game, which includes a really impressive stretch as of late. Nembhard has netted 20 or more points in four consecutive games. Last time out, Nembhard scored 21 points on 50% shooting from the floor.

Nembhard ranks sixth in the Big 12 in field goal percentage (48.8%) and is also sixth in assists per game (4.4) so far this season. Nembhard is an athletic scoring guard that can really produce off the dribble, but he can also be careless with the ball at times.

Last season, Nembhard was second on the team in scoring with an average of 12.1 points per game.

SUPPORTING CAST

No. 1 — G Mike Miles | 6-2, 195, fr.

The other piece of that talented backcourt tandem is freshman guard Mike Miles.

Miles has three 20-point games this season and ranks ninth in the Big 12 in scoring with an average of 14.8 points per contest. Among freshmen, Miles’ scoring average is second in the Big 12 and 10th nationally. He is also converting on 46.8% of his shots, which ranks ninth in the Big 12.

Coming out of high school, Miles is the 114th-ranked prospect in the Class of 2020 and the 27th-best point guard by Rivals. Miles has really good handles, and excellent playmaking ability in his first year with TCU.

No. 21 — C Kevin Samuel | 6-11, 255, jr.

To complete a nice balance, the Horned Frogs have a reliable veteran presence in the paint.

Junior center Kevin Samuel is the only other TCU player to average in double figures with a scoring average of 10.2 points per game through 11 contests. He’s also averaging 10.2 rebounds per contest and 2.6 blocks per outing.

Samuel is TCU’s career leader with 191 blocked shots. He leads the Big 12 and ranks 20th nationally with 2.6 blocks per game. Samuel tallied seven blocks against Oklahoma State on Dec. 16, which was the most by a TCU player in 20 seasons.

In addition, Samuel’s rebounding average paces the Big 12 and ranks 20th nationally.

ONE THING TCU DOES WELL

TCU has fared well on 2-point shots so far this season, hitting 54.5% of such attempts from the floor. That clip ranks 57th in the country, according to KenPom.

ONE AREA TCU STRUGGLES

The Horned Frogs won’t get much production from the charity stripe. TCU’s 64.2% clip from the free throw line ranks 292nd in the nation. TCU averages 11.9 made free throws per contest.

MEET THE COACH

The Horned Frogs are coached by Jamie Dixon, who is 93-59 in his fifth season at TCU and 421-182 in his 18th season overall.

VEGAS SAYS

Kansas is a 6.5-point favorite at the FanDuels Sportsbook as of Tuesday morning. KU has obviously done a good job of bouncing back after a loss, but I think this is too many points to lay on the road. TCU does a good job of protecting the rim, an area where KU has struggled so far this season.

Give me Kansas in a close one.

Prediction: Kansas 76, TCU 73

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Three observations from KU’s 84-59 loss to No. 8 Texas

Kansas head coach Bill Self calls a play during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self calls a play during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

No. 3 Kansas trailed from start to finish of its 84-59 loss to No. 8 Texas Saturday afternoon in Allen Fieldhouse. Limited crowd or not, that’s not the sort of thing that happens to the Jayhawks in Lawrence.

In fact, KU’s 25-point loss is the team’s largest margin of defeat in Allen Fieldhouse in the Bill Self era and largest by the program since 1989.

But the sky is not falling for the Jayhawks, who are now 8-2 overall and 2-1 in Big 12 play.

Almost a year ago to the exact date, Kansas dropped a 67-55 decision to Baylor at home. The performance highlighted some limitations that the Jayhawks had at the time, though they never lost again and ended up winning 16 in a row after that.

It is not fair to expect that level of response from this year’s squad, of course, but it illustrates the importance of not overreacting from one game. With that said, here are a few observations from what was the first KU game of 2021:

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KU’s poor transition offense led to slow start

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Entering Saturday, Texas ranked fourth in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency on KenPom. The Longhorns’ length and athleticism was supposed to make life more difficult for the Jayhawks, and they ended up shooting 20-for-65 from the floor.

Kansas missed its first eights shots from the floor, and never really got into a rhythm after that. But KU’s decision making in transition certainly played a part in all that, especially when the team couldn’t buy a bucket out of the gate.

Following a missed layup by Texas, Kansas had a chance to hit its first field goal in a four-on-two situation. Jalen Wilson, who collected the defensive rebound on the other end, fired a pass to Ochai Agbaji along the perimeter.

Agbaji missed the 3-pointer, which was KU’s eighth miss of the game.

A wide-open 3-pointer is usually a good shot, but KU could have attacked the rim to get a better look in this scenario.

None by Shane Jackson

It merely highlighted some of Kansas’ struggles in transition, however.

Just over one minute later, Wilson had a two-on-one with Christian Braun and chose to do it all himself. He ended up getting the foul call, but it was a sequence that could have been a lot easier had Wilson dished the ball to Braun for an easy layup.

For the game, KU only had 6 fastbreak points against Texas. On a day where hitting shots was so difficult, more success in transition could have ultimately led to some easy buckets for the hosts.

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Agbaji got too comfortable taking mid-range jumpers

**

The junior guard was the only source of offense for the Jayhawks in the early going. By the second media timeout, Agbaji had made all three of KU’s shots to that point in the game.

Agbaji finished with 11 points in the loss. He was the only other player to finish in double figures along with Wilson, who paced the team with 20 points. Agbaji was 5-of-14 from the floor, including 1-of-6 from long range.

But Agbaji could have helped himself by getting better looks, too. Agbaji hit a couple mid-range jumpers in the first half that served as one of the rare offensive bright spots for KU. At the 5:38 mark, Agbaji hit a pull-up jumper over 6-foot-10 Texas forward Jericho Sims.

Because of that, Agbaji probably took more of those types of shots than he should have. Agbaji ended up missing four of his six total jumpers (inside the arc) against Texas. He did not score at all in the second half, missing all five of his attempts from the floor.

Entering this weekend, Agbaji was 4-of-16 on “Far 2” shots, according to Torvik. As a team, Kansas is 43-for-145 (29.7%) on such attempts – not counting the Texas game – on the year.

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Mitch Lightfoot delivers two big blocks

**

The Jayhawks’ lack of rim protection is nothing new, but it was obvious against a team like the Longhorns that can play above the rim. A total of 13 of Texas’ 30 made field goals came at the basket, with the visitors recording seven layups and six dunks on the day.

Coming off the bench, Mitch Lightfoot did his best to deter Texas from getting easy looks. He recorded two blocks in his five first-half minutes, including this nice recovery swat late in the first half.

That showing, along with David McCormack’s rough stretch to end the first half, was enough for Lightfoot to earn playing time to begin the second half. McCormack didn’t check back into the game until nearly 13 minutes had passed in the second half.

Lightfoot didn’t record another swat in the second half, but his play was worth mentioning given how Kansas has fared at protecting the rim this year. Entering Saturday, KU had a block rate of 8.6% and that number ranked 155th in the country on KenPom.

For the season, Lightfoot has netted a team-high nine blocks in 80 minutes of action.

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