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Stanford Preview

NCAA Basketball: Battle 4 Atlantis-Middle Tennessee vs Stanford Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that hopefully will become more known for the introduction of the football coach who turned KU football around for good, Kansas takes on a Stanford team that has been a bit disappointing thus far this season. They don’t have any bad losses, with a three game losing streak to North Carolina, Florida, and Wisconsin, but even in their wins they have not looked terribly impressive.

The main culprit is the loss of Reid Travis, who grad transferred to Kentucky. Travis made Stanford’s offense go, and without him it has stopped. Stanford is shooting under 49 percent on twos, and just 30 percent from three.

Another culprit is its woeful turnover rate, 315th in the country. In fact, the only of the four factors they rank even inside the top 200 in is free throw rate, which ranks 38th. Last year that could have been a problem for a KU team without a lot of depth, but this season even if Stanford is able to collect a bunch of fouls on Udoka Azubuike and Dedric Lawson, Kansas has plenty of firepower to win.

Defensively, Stanford has fared a little better. They actually lead the nation in giving up three point attempts, just around 23 percent of opponent attempts, however some of that is due to the stylistic nature of their opponents thus far.

While I don’t think Kansas will attempt a ton of threes, I don’t think they’ll be forced into many bad twos. Stanford has been a good 2-point defense as well, allowing teams to convert on just 46 percent of their attempts inside the arc. Oddly, Stanford is giving up a ton of shots at the rim (336th in the country via, and isn’t overwhelmingly good at stopping teams from scoring once they get there.

They give up a ton of transition opportunities as well (290th again via Hoop-Math). So I am going to chalk this up to sample size and playing some bad teams. If Kansas gets a bunch of transition opportunities and a bunch of shots at the rim, I am comfortable saying they will score a bunch of points.

Players to Watch

KZ Opala, 6-9 Sophomore forward

Opala has struggled against Stanford’s elite opponents, but has good numbers overall. He’s shooting 46.6 percent on twos and 44 percent on threes (although on just 16 attempts) with the highest usage on the team. He’s also taken 48 free throws this season already in just 7 games.

Oscar da Silva, 6-9 sophomore forward

Da Silva is a good interior defender for the Cardinal, and also is shooting 68 percent on twos thus far this season. He isn’t a big part of their offense, but he’s someone to watch for on both ends of the floor.

The Pick

Kansas reportedly hasn’t looked good in practice, which makes me think they’ll be eager to beat the hell out of someone. Poor Stanford. The Cardinal haven’t been very impressive this season, and I think a rude welcome for former Jayhawk Jerod Haase is in store. I’ll say Kansas 89-65 in the Jayhawks first real blowout of the season.