Kansas opens up its NCAA tournament play as one of the last teams to get going tonight when it takes on UC Davis, who has the distinction of being the worst team in the field according to KenPom. They are led by Jim Les, who is 1-0 against Kansas in the NCAA tournament, having defeated the Jayhawks in the 2006 first round when he was with Bradley. Of course, this team has no Patrick O’Bryant and isn’t facing a team of freshmen.
Offensively, the Aggies are not great, having finished 6th in their own league and 291st nationally. UC Davis is one of the rare teams that has the distinction of shooting fewer threes than Kansas, although they shoot a not bad 35 percent from deep. Given that they are at just 47 percent on twos, they should probably fire away from deep more often. Really the only thing UC Davis does well is get to the line, but even once they are there they make just two-thirds of their attempts. They grab just 29 percent of their misses, which probably has something to do with being in the 300s in average height.
Defensively, UC Davis will get after KU a bit. They were one of the best defensive teams in the Big West, and rank 112th nationally, which is pretty good for a 16 seed. They have gotten a bit lucky on that end probably, allowing teams to shoot 32 percent from three while not really limiting attempts, but they do force turnovers on roughly 20 percent of possessions, so if Kansas isn’t careful they could allow some easy baskets. The other of note stat is teams rebound under 30 percent of their misses against the Aggies, but I think that is mostly a function of their league, as the Big West is 19th among all conferences in offensive rebound percentage. So I expect Landen Lucas, Josh Jackson, and probably Carlton Bragg and Lagerald Vick to be able to hit the offensive glass for some putbacks.
Players to Watch
Chima Moneke, 6-6 junior forward
Moneke is shooting 51 percent on twos for the year, and is also the 7th best defensive rebounder in the entire nation (although, again, I think a lot of that has to do with UC Davis’s opponents). He plays a lot of 4 for the Aggies, so he will be an interesting cover for the Jayhawks, even with their small ball lineups.
Brynton Lemar, 6-4 senior guard
If there is a guy who is going to go off from deep, it is Lemar, who is shooting 39 percent on 194 attempts. He is a decent passer as well, and also draws the second most fouls per 40 minutes on the team.
Siller Schneider, 6-3 sophomore guard
The Lansing, Kansas native was 3rd in the Big West in usage and 2nd in shots, so you know he will be heavily featured. He shot just 45 percent on twos and 33 percent from deep. He also hasn’t made a three since February 23rd and is 0 for his last 18 attempts, so he’s due to go 5-6.
Things to Watch For
- Fouls - UC Davis loves to go to the line. Kansas does a good job of defending without fouling (or at times not defending and not fouling I guess), and UC Davis definitely will want to get a couple key guys on the bench.
- Turnovers - The way this thing gets close is if UC Davis forces quite a few turnovers, limiting Kansas’s 2nd shot opportunities and getting some easy looks on their end.
- Perimeter defense - It was horrendous against TCU, and you can bet Kansas will have worked on it this week.