Kansas has pretty much always smartly scheduled mid majors for their non conference opponents, and this is no different. Led by future North Carolina head coach Wes Miller, UNC Greensboro probably isn’t a threat to win the game tonight, but is a contender to win the Southern Conference, and I think a potential 1st round upset pick in March if they get there.
Although they’re replacing some starters, the Spartans bring back a lot of rotation pieces from last year’s team that was only denied an NCAA tournament berth thanks to being stuck in the same conference as Wofford (they should have gotten in anyway but that’s another rant). To show the direction college basketball has gone the last few years, the Spartans took over 37 percent of their shots from three last year, which ranked a whopping 211th nationally.
Fortunately for Kansas, they weren’t very good at shooting them last year and also lost one of their more prolific shooters to graduation. They’re also slightly below average height wise, although they have a pair of 6-10 post players and a couple reasonably sized wings. Like Kansas, they have a smaller backcourt which drags their average height down.
It’s tough to take much from Greensboro’s season opening win against North Carolina A&T, but I did find it interesting that in Wes Miller’s tenure he’s gone from having one of the fastest teams in the entire country to among the slowest. He’s had a lot more success playing slow, so maybe he’s onto something there. They have also done a pretty good job in his tenure of getting into passing lanes and denying assists, so that might be a good challenge for a Kansas team that certainly had its issues passing the ball.
Players to Watch
Isaiah Miller, 6-0 junior guard
Miller made things go for UNCG last year, although he’s much more of a slasher than a shooter. He is just 20-80 from three for his career, and is only a career 56 percent shooter from the line as well, which is (obviously) horrible for a guard. He is, however, a career 55 percent shooter from two. He’s also probably the team’s best defender.
Keyshaun Langley, 6-1 freshman guard
Who knows how much playing time Langley will get, but he had 6 assists and 0 turnovers in 16 minutes in his collegiate debut and now (sample size alert) ranks 3rd nationally in assist rate and tied for first in turnover rate.
Kaleb Hunter, 6-4 sophomore wing
Hunter looks poised to take a big step forward this year. He was 7-7 from the free throw line in the opener and looks like the guy a lot of the offense will run through when he’s on the floor.
Kansas is favored by 15.5 in this one, and I think Kansas’s usual ability to play above expectation against 100ish ranked teams makes me think this line is a bit low. Greensboro doesn’t have the size to keep Kansas off the glass and isn’t good enough at the things they need to be to score against Kansas. Give me the Hawks 83-64.
2019-20 record against the spread: 0-1