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Kansas-Texas Preview

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas plays its final road game of the season tonight, and it is a game that doesn't matter. Hooray! While I am certainly not suggesting Kansas take it easy tonight (especially because going half speed in a game is how people get hurt) I wouldn't be surprised to see the Jayhawks come out a bit flat given what happened on Saturday. Kansas is probably going to be a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, and no worse than a 2, so these remaining 3 to 5 games are largely academic.

As for the Longhorns, even though they sit in a tie for 3rd in the league at 10-6, they're actually 6th in the league in efficiency rating. The Big 12 has been awesome all year, but maybe Texas is getting a bit too much hype right now. Offensively the Horns have a weird profile. They turn it over less than anyone in the league, don't crash the offensive glass at all, and are average in terms of shooting and getting to the line. Texas also ranks 8th in the league in 3-point shooting but takes the 3rd most attempts, so if they have an on night they will be tough to beat.

Defensively, Texas basically beats you by limiting threes. Texas leads the league in terms of allowing 3-point attempts, and opponents shoot just 33 percent from three against them, which also leads the league. Even with Perry Ellis's domination in the first meeting, I assume Texas will hold to that strategy and try to force Mason, Graham, and Selden to drive rather than shoot from deep. Texas is pretty average at everything else, though it is notable they are 8th in the league at forcing turnovers.

Players to Watch

Isaiah Taylor certainly has a shot at first team all conference this year. He still isn't a good shooter, but he ranks 2nd in the league in assist rate and 4th in turnover rate and also draws a ton of fouls. He isn't the best defender but he's good enough to make things tough on an opposing guard for a few possessions here and there.

Prince Ibeh doesn't shoot much, but he leads the league in 2-point percentage, shooting 68 percent. He also ranks 2nd in the league in shot blocking. He's also one of the best rebounders in the league. My only gripe regarding Ibeh is people who give Shaka Smart tons of credit for him being so improved when Ibeh has virtually the same offensive rating this season as last season in conference play.

Connor Lammert had a nice game in the first meeting, and is shooting 38 percent from deep in conference play. He's also a pretty good defensive rebounder and he doesn't turn it over, and he also stretches the floor really well which allows Isaiah Taylor to have a more open lane to drive into. Given that he is a senior and this is senior night, expect him to go about 9-10 from three.

The Pick

If this were a game that mattered I would be much more on the fence. Texas is a good team and in some ways they match up with Kansas, but as we saw in the first meeting, without Ibeh in there Texas doesn't have much in the way of interior defense, which Perry Ellis eats up. As it is, though, Texas is going to come out hot on senior night, and Kansas will probably have the just clinched hangover. This is not to take anything away from Texas, who is a good team, but I am merely saying the ancillaries make this a much easier call. Texas grabs the upset, 76-67.