Skip to content

Breaking down position matchups for Kentucky vs. Kansas

Apr 2, 2012, 1:02 AM EDT

There’s no denying Kentucky boasts more elite talent than Kansas. But that talent gap might not be as wide as you think.

The Wildcats start three guys who are projected as NBA lottery picks, a first-rounder and two more who are at least second-rounders.  The Jayhawks’ lone lottery pick is forward Thomas Robinson, but they also have two more who’ll be drafted in the first round, and another second-rounder.

Six draft picks vs. four drafts picks? That’s not insurmountable. So how’s it compare position-by-position? Let’s break it down.

source:

Point guard: Marquis Teague vs. Tyshawn Taylor
Teague’s developed nicely as Kentucky’s freshman point guard, cutting down on his turnovers, boosting his assists and not forcing shots. Taylor, Kansas’ four-year starter, is often criticized for his turnovers, but he commits them at a lower rate than Teague and is a better defensive player. The only thing preventing Kansas with a big edge here? Taylor’s shooting woes in the NCAA tournament.
Edge: Kansas

Shooting guard: Doron Lamb vs. Elijah Johnson
Lamb’s a lights-out shooter who doesn’t commit turnovers and is the perfect weapon to keep defenses from sagging on the Kentucky big men. Johnson’s a streakier scorer, but has been hot lately, averaging more than 15 points in his last seven games. Johnson’s a bit better in the open court, but Lamb’s ball-handling are toughness are underrated.
Edge: Even

Small forward: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs. Travis Releford
Kidd-Gilchrist is a lock-down defender, dynamic play-maker in the open court and a solid mid-range shooter. When he’s on, Kentucky’s usually rolling. Releford’s shorter, slower and can struggle to create his own shot. He’s a good player, but MKG is on another level.
Big edge: Kentucky

Power forward: Terrence Jones vs. Thomas Robinson
The most intriguing matchup of the bunch. Jones is a physical player, capable of handling the ball on the break, finishing in transition and knocking down a 3-pointer. Robinson’s slightly bigger, slightly stronger and much more aggressive. He’ll be relentless on both ends. The difference will be which one stays out of foul trouble and if Jones stays focused. Robinson will get his. Jones might not.
Edge: Kansas

Center: Anthony Davis vs. Jeff Withey
Davis is the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NBA draft and the national player of the year. He’s been more aggressive on offense during the NCAA tournament and continues to be a difference-maker on defense. But Withey’s hardly a chump. He actually had more blocks than Davis did during the Final Four and boasts more size, something that can bother Davis around the rim.
Edge: Kentucky

Bench
Kentucky’s Darius Miller is a senior, shoots 37 percent from beyond the arc, can play three positions and has been clutch throughout the season. Kyle Wiltjer is slow, but could be Kentucky’s best perimeter shooter. Kansas uses Connor Teahan for spot minutes, but unless he’s hitting 3s, he’s a defensive liability. Kevin Young is there for depth and fouls, not much else.
Big edge: Kentucky

Coaching
Bill Self’s got the better of John Calipari during the 2008 national title game and was just named the Naismith coach of the year. He took a roster that lost four starters and two key players to the Final Four and another Big 12 title. He’s also made crucial halftime adjustments throughout the tournament that have helped Kansas get this far. But don’t write off Calipari. His Wildcats are rolling thanks to his coaching and motivational methods. Xs and Os aren’t his strong suit, but he’s no dummy, either.
Edge: Even

X-factor
Will Kentucky have a letdown after beating Louisville? It seems unlikely given the team’s focus throughout the season. They play hard, they’re unselfish and don’t play like underclassmen. They’ve already handled Kansas once this season and have only gotten better since.But the Jayhawks have played like a team possessed the last five games, refusing to give into their shoddy shooting. The biggest factor might be preventing a Kentucky run. The last time the two played, the Wildcats used a 26-9 run over a 10-minute span to create separation. That happens again, Kansas is toast.
Edge: Kentucky

By my reckoning, Kentucky has edges in four areas, including a massive one at small forward. Unless Robinson and Taylor are superb, this game’s going to the Wildcats. Miracles do happen in the NCAA tournament. If Kansas pulls off one here, it’ll be a stunner.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Latest Posts
  1. Wisconsin raises more than $276,000 for cancer research

    Oct 22, 2014, 10:14 PM EDT

    Bo Ryan Bo Ryan

    Wisconsin held its third annual “Shooting Down Cancer” event Wednesday, with their goal being to #MakeBoPay.

  2. Two Memphis players to miss practice time for health reasons

    Oct 22, 2014, 9:13 PM EDT

    Austin Nichols AP

    Austin Nichols is the reigning American Athletic Conference ROY, and sophomore Avery Woodson is expected to compete for minutes in a crowded by inexperienced backcourt.

  3. Fresno State guard knocks down five straight half-court shots (VIDEO)

    Oct 22, 2014, 7:03 PM EDT

    Cezar Guerrero Cezar Guerrero

    Cezar Guerrero knocked down five straight from half-court during the team’s Red and White Hoops Night event Tuesday.

  4. Newcomer’s knee issue stretches Oregon’s thin rotation even further

    Oct 22, 2014, 6:43 PM EDT

    altman AP

    Oregon didn’t have much depth to begin with due to various personnel issues, so Michael Chandler’s lingering knee problem is a major concern.

  5. Bruce Pearl invades marketing class to promote ‘Pearl Jam’ (VIDEO)

    Oct 22, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    People don’t come more intense than Bruce Pearl.

  6. Three-star guard commits to SMU, reclassifies to 2016

    Oct 22, 2014, 4:25 PM EDT

    Larry Brown Larry Brown

    Given SMU’s depth on the perimeter, LaGerald Vick’s decision to move back in classes will help both parties in the future.

  7. 2014-15 Season Preview: 20 Impact Freshmen

    Oct 22, 2014, 4:06 PM EDT

    Justin Jackson (left) and Jahlil Okafor (right) at the McDonald's All-American Game Justin Jackson (left) and Jahlil Okafor (right) at the McDonald's All-American Game

    College basketball will have plenty of impact freshmen this season. Here’s a look at some that could step in and contribute right away.

  8. Report: Texas plans to start paying their athletes $10,000 stipend

    Oct 22, 2014, 3:18 PM EDT

    Rick Barnes AP

    The Longhorns are the first school in the country to do this.

  9. Stanford lands a commitment from four-star seven-footer

    Oct 22, 2014, 2:55 PM EDT

    dawkins Getty Images

    The Cardinal now have three four-star recruits in the Class of 2015.

  10. UNC investigation states bogus classes pushed by academic counselors to athletes

    Oct 22, 2014, 2:09 PM EDT

    Roy Williams Getty Images

    Wednesday’s report is much more damning than either of the previous two that have been released.

  11. SEC preseason media poll and all-SEC team announced

    Oct 22, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    SEClogo

    There is one big name that wasn’t named to the preseason first team.

  12. 2014-2015 Season Preview: NDSU, SDSU take step back in Summit League hierarchy

    Oct 22, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    Scott Sutton (AP Photo) Scott Sutton (AP Photo)

    The top half of the Summit League will be a tight race all season long.

  13. The Big East releases their preseason poll, all-league teams

    Oct 22, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    BigEastLogo

    The Big East coaches love Villanova, but are they sleeping on Marquette?

  14. Report: ULM freshman charged with rape

    Oct 22, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    keith richard AP

    ULM has some off-the-court issues to address with the season looming.

  15. Top 25 Countdown: No. 13 VCU Rams

    Oct 22, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Treveon Graham (AP Photo) Treveon Graham (AP Photo)

    Fun fact about Shaka Smart: He has still never won a conference regular season title.

  16. Report: Stanford guard to miss action with a broken wrist

    Oct 21, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Pac 12 Basketball Tournament - Stanford v California Getty Images

    Stanford’s back court depth took a hit this week.

  17. James Madison announces suspensions for two players

    Oct 21, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Suspensions have been handed down for two James Madison players involved in a fall altercation.

  18. Nebraska lands commitment from 2016 forward

    Oct 21, 2014, 8:38 PM EDT

    Tim Miles AP

    Nebraska has been recruiting the state of Illinois very hard and it paid off with a 2016 commitment.

  19. Kansas State loses forward for the season

    Oct 21, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT

    La Salle v Kansas State Getty Images

    Kansas State has taken a hit to its front court depth this week.

  20. Florida guard cleared to return to practice

    Oct 21, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

    Southern v Florida Getty Images

    Florida’s backcourt depth received a big boost this week.