Skip to content

Breaking down position matchups for Kentucky vs. Kansas

Apr 2, 2012, 1:02 AM EST

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. Duke’s Justise Winslow jumps over Stanford’s Chasson Randle (VIDEO)

    Nov 22, 2014, 11:33 PM EST

    Justise Winslow Justise Winslow

    Most people already knew that Winslow’s a high-level athlete. Here’s some evidence for those who somehow didn’t.

  2. Rhode Island pays tribute to Nebraska assistant coach’s son (PHOTOS)

    Nov 22, 2014, 11:22 PM EST

    Terrence Payne Terrence Payne

    Before their game against No. 21 Nebraska, Rhode Island took the floor in shirts honoring Avery Harriman.

  3. Two key Florida players declared questionable for Battle 4 Atlantis

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:44 PM EST

    Angel Rodriguez ,Eli Carter,Manu Lecomte Angel Rodriguez ,Eli Carter,Manu Lecomte

    Florida faces Georgetown in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis Wednesday.

  4. Rhode Island upsets No. 21 Nebraska, 66-62, in overtime

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:37 PM EST

    AP AP

    The score was tied 41-41 with six minutes to go. Rams and Cornhuskers traded the lead five times after that.

  5. Second-half efficiency the difference as Wyoming steamrolls Colorado

    Nov 22, 2014, 8:06 PM EST

    Wyoming v UNLV Getty Images

    Wyoming may have scored just 56 points, but all 22 of their made field goals were assisted and they shot nearly 53 percent from the field.

  6. P.J. Boutte’s buzzer-beating floater pushes IUPUI past Ball State (VIDEO)

    Nov 22, 2014, 6:17 PM EST

    IUPUI Athletics IUPUI Athletics

    Boutte’s shot came seconds after he corralled a wayward pass from teammate Marcellus Barksdale.

  7. No. 6 North Carolina wins as Kennedy Meeks posts another double-double

    Nov 22, 2014, 4:58 PM EST

    Kennedy Meeks, Brice Johnson Kennedy Meeks, Brice Johnson

    Meeks accounted for two double-doubles all season in 2013-14. He’s now matched that total through three games.

  8. Providence cruises past struggling Florida State as Kris Dunn looks like a major factor

    Nov 22, 2014, 4:46 PM EST

    Carson Desrosiers, Montay Brandon AP

    Providence jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead and cruised to an easy win over Florida State.

  9. After slow start, Notre Dame uses nice guard balance, defense to run past UMass

    Nov 22, 2014, 2:30 PM EST

    Jabarie Hinds, Demetrius Jackson AP

    Notre Dame guards Demetrius Jackson and Jerian Grant played well to help lead the Irish to victory.

  10. Report: 2015 CBE Classic field announced

    Nov 22, 2014, 1:40 PM EST

    AP AP

    The 2015 CBE Classic will have a local flavor.

  11. Ball State suspends reigning MAC Freshman of the Year indefinitely

    Nov 22, 2014, 12:30 PM EST

    Ball State v Marquette Getty Images

    Ball State will be without a key piece for the immediate future.

  12. Pregame Shootaround: Multiple top-25 teams in action during a solid Saturday

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:30 AM EST

    Terran Petteway, Nigel Hayes AP

    A solid Saturday slate features multiple ranked teams in action.

  13. Lauren Hill surprises teammates, fans with another layup in her second college game (VIDEO)

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:00 AM EST

    Lauren Hill AP

    A tremendous story continues to get better as Lauren Hill surprised teammates and fans by checking into her second college basketball game and scoring again on Friday night.

  14. Late Night Snacks: No. 10 Texas wins the 2K Classic without Isaiah Taylor

    Nov 21, 2014, 11:55 PM EST

    AP AP

    Here is everything you need to know from Friday night hoops.

  15. No. 8 Florida needs overtime to defeat Louisiana-Monroe, 61-56

    Nov 21, 2014, 11:45 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Florida nearly coughed up another win on Friday.

  16. The ‘Chaminade Crew’ and how Jonathan Holmes has changed the culture of Texas hoops

    Nov 21, 2014, 11:05 PM EST

    AP AP

    Like the rest of the 2011 recruiting class, Jonathan Holmes could have left Texas. Instead he made the decision to stay, and he and the Longhorns are better because of it.