Nickname: 49ers (the baseballers are known as Dirtbags, which is awesome)
Enrollment: 27, 437 undergrads
Conference Big West
2011 record: 22-12 (14-2)
Famous alumni: Evan Longoria (pro baseball player), Linda Woolverton (wrote the screenplays for Beauty and the Beast and the Lion King), Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan has to be his best movie right? right.)
Season Overview: The 49ers burst onto the national stage earlier this year, upsetting Pitt on the road, and followed that up with a good four point loss at San Diego State. They've cooled off as of late, dropping a tough one to Montana over Thanksgiving weekend. They'll get no break after the visit to Allen Fieldhouse, as they travel to Chapel Hill on Saturday (fortunately they'll at least get to play in a more docile environment).
What they do well: The 49ers aren't great at anything, but they're good at a lot of things. They shoot 52.4% from two, which will be a nice test for KU's stout two point defense, and they shoot a lot of them, shooting only 29.3% of their field goals from beyond the arc. They get to the line reasonably well (76th in FTA/FGA) and knock down free throws fairly well, shooting 72.7% from the line. Fortunately for them, their two most frequent free throw shooters are also their best two: Casper Ware is shooting 85.7% from the line and Larry Anderson is at 81.1%.
What they do poorly: In the upset over Pitt Long Beach relied on shooting 39% from three, but on the season they're roughly a percent below average, shooting just 32.6%. They also turn it over quite a bit, 22% of their possessions, which should be a big help for a Kansas defense that has at times struggled in that regard. They've also struggled at forcing turnovers at times, but I have a feeling Kansas can turn it over against anybody. Against Pitt they did an incredible job on the glass (which is the key to beating Pitt), but they're just 197th in defensive rebounding on the year, so barring any foul trouble I expect Kansas to have their way inside.
Prediction: The 49ers sure won't be rattled. They have 4 Seniors and a Junior in their starting lineup and they're the second most experienced team in the country. Seeing a single digit lead at halftime (either way) wouldn't surprise me at all. However, the 49ers go to their bench fewer than all but eight teams in the country, so I have a tough time seeing them having the stamina to last a full game.
Their relative lack of height should allow Kansas to dominate the glass, and assuming Kansas doesn't waste too many possessions turning the ball over I think the fact that Long Beach will have to go too far away from its preferred offense (in terms of shooting a lot of threes) will be too much to overcome. I'll take the Jayhawks 76-59. KenPom has the Jayhawks at 87% to win, and winning 80-66 in 72 possessions.