Kansas seems determined to win the Southern Conference championship this year, as the Jayhawks welcome in their second SoCon foe in three games. Like UNC Greensboro, ETSU would have been an NCAA worthy team in almost any one bid league that didn’t feature an eventual 7 seed. And like UNC Greensboro, they do some things that might give Kansas some trouble.
We start with the obvious. ETSU shoots 41.5 percent from three as a team this year, and are taking roughly an NCAA average number on the season. It’s worth noting they haven’t played a Kenpom top 150 team yet, so the attempts have been easier to come by than they will be Tuesday night, but their perimeter offense may be the stiffest test for the Jayhawks as of yet.
ETSU also does well inside the arc, making 60 percent of their twos, although the similar caveats apply with regard to opponent strength. I have a hard time thinking they’ll do a lot of work inside the arc tonight, although they could certainly spread Kansas out along the perimeter and take advantage of those driving lanes. An all-upperclassman backcourt has been surprisingly turnover prone, which could get the Jayhawks off on the right foot in that regard this game.
Their numbers are decent defensively, but there’s much less to be worried about. For starters, there isn’t a ton of size. ETSU starts one 7-footer (more on him later), but no one else who has played more than 20 minutes per game stands over 6-7. It should be another game of giving it to Udoka Azubuike until they prove they can stop it, and there won’t be a ton of resistance at the rim for Devon Dotson (or Marcus Garrett) if he sneaks past his man.
Elsewhere, ETSU has limited 3-point attempts, but relies a lot on keeping teams from getting to the free throw line, which won’t work against a bigger, more athletic team playing on their home floor. Kansas may not attempt a ton of threes, but with ETSU’s struggles playing interior defense and on the defensive glass, they shouldn’t need to.
Players to Watch
Patrick Good, 6-0 junior guard
Good has been, uh, good this year. He currently leads the entire nation in effective field goal percentage, which is what happens when you don’t miss a two and go 8-13 from behind the arc. He doesn’t do much else, but who cares.
Lucas N’Guessan, 7-0 senior center
If his name sounds familiar, N’Guessan played for two seasons at Oklahoma State prior to transferring to ETSU. He’s only played 14 career minutes against the Jayhawks, with 12 of them coming in a 87-80 loss in Allen Fieldhouse in 2017. Last season he was one of the better shot blockers in the SoCon, and he’s continued to be so, while getting to the free throw line a decent amount and shooting well while getting there.
Bo Hodges, 6-5 junior forward
Hodges has been a good shot blocker as well, and is ETSU’s main 2-point scorer, leading the team in attempts (18) and makes (11) through two D1 games. He’s also a good passer and offensive rebounder, and unless Good gets loose, Hodges is probably who will draw the Marcus Garrett assignment.
While ETSU shoots a lot of threes and has shot them well this year, I think their defensive numbers are a bit of fools gold. Kansas has some issues to work out on that side of the ball, but over time I think their size will wear ETSU down and will cover the 14-point spread. I’ll say Kansas 81-63.
2019 record ATS: 1-2