The Kansas men’s basketball team finishes non-conference play Tuesday against UC-Irvine at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks return home after a road win in San Diego against the Aztecs (70-57). The No. 2 Jayhawks sit at 10-1 (hopefully 11-1 after Tuesday night), which puts the team in a favorable spot heading into Big 12 play.
Here’s part one of the preview of what Kansas will face in the Big 12 this year:
Baylor (9-2) — After looking at Baylor’s schedule, I found it hard to take their nine wins seriously. Eight of those wins were at home — one was at a neutral site — while the losses were away at Oregon and Texas A&M-the more challenging loss was arguably to the Ducks. The Bears were tested by Vanderbilt and New Mexico State, but individual scoring gave the team a boost both times.
Edge: Baylor’s individual scorers will no doubt give Kansas trouble. Watch out for senior forward Taureen Waller-Prince, who scored a career-high 34 points in the Bears match up against New Mexico State.
Iowa State (10-1) — Kansas basketball fans will appreciate the Cyclones only loss this season: Northern Iowa (*jeers*). OK, now that we’re past that…. Iowa State’s games have been close ones — I’m sure the people of Ames want The Mayor (Fred Hoiberg) back. In fact, they’ll be sending out all the bat signals by the time the Jayhawks-Cyclones match up rolls around.
Edge: While I could keep talking trash, I shouldn’t. The Cyclones still have Hoiberg’s talented guys. Oh, and yes, that includes Georges Niang, who is still on the team.
Kansas State (9-2) — My mom told me that if I can’t say anything nice, I shouldn’t say anything at all…. Kidding. I’ll be interested to see how Kansas State does in conference play. I don’t think the nine wins K-State earned show me what the Wildcats can do when tested. (Looking at box scores is also not an accurate way of assessing a team.)
Edge: The Wildcats beat the Missouri Tigers. They could very well beat Kansas, too.
Oklahoma (11-0) — The Oklahoma Sooners will open Big 12 play on Jan. 2 versus Iowa State after claiming the Diamond Head Classic title game. Senior guard Buddy Hield scored a career-high 34 points to help the Sooners edge Harvard in the title game.
Edge: With Hield returning for his senior season, the No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners have a good chance to keep winning games. Hield led the Big 12 in scoring and was named the player of the year in 2014. With his leadership on the court for the Sooners, anything is possible.
The Kansas Jayhawks final non-conference game will be televised tomorrow, 01/29 on ESPNU and ESPN3 at 8pm. Follow along with me on @SPROTSTAKES Twitter for a live tweet of the event.
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