Kansas faces probably its second toughest test of the nonconference season when it faces the Utah Utes, who have just one loss on the season.
At first blush, Utah looks like a really tough matchup for the Jayhawks. They are 12th in effective height, and feature a pair of 7 footers. True to form, Utah is great at shooting twos (56.9 percent, 11th nationally), preventing twos (37.6 percent, 6th nationally) and getting to the free throw line (2nd nationally). Utah is also excellent beyond the arc, shooting 41.2 percent as a team and featuring six players shooting 38 percent or better.
7 foot freshman Jakob Poeltl has been the Utes' most impressive player to date. He's 11th nationally in eFG, first nationally in offensive rebounding, and one of the best players in the country at getting to the line.
Another player to watch for will be guard Delon Wright. Wright does a bit of everything for the Utes, shooting 63.6 percent from two, 38.9 percent from three, and has a 32.2 percent assist rate. He's also a capable wing defender.
The numbers don't paint a pretty picture. Fortunately for Kansas, the Utes don't force many turnovers, so Kansas should be able to shoot the ball over the top of the defense (if they elect to. Recent games don't paint a pretty picture in that regard). They also turn it over a fair amount, though I wouldn't expect them to against the Jayhawks. Utah has also been a good defensive rebounding team, which shuts down one of Kansas's bigger avenues to scoring.
Even though KenPom has Kansas at 72% to win, the numbers, especially Utah's interior defense, don't paint a pretty picture for Kansas. Really the only thing going for the Jayhawks is Utah's average opponent is ranked 180 in KenPom, while KU's is 63. Because of San Diego State's issues scoring and the fact that I personally think BYU is very overrated, it could be said that Utah has played one really good opponent this year, so some of their stats should be taken with a grain of salt.
Bottom line, though, is this one will be tough. I think Utah will win a squeaker, 60-57 or so, though if Kansas attempts as many threes as it should, and avoids shooting a miserable percentage, I think they'll win the game.