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. Bubble Banter: Davidson with a big win, Stanford in trouble, and … VCU?

    Mar 6, 2015, 1:34 AM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    All of the bubble winners and losers from Thursday.

  2. Late Night Snacks: North Florida, USC Upstate advance to Atlantic Sun title game

    Mar 5, 2015, 10:23 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    No. 6 Wisconsin is the outright Big Ten champion, and Delaware State’s Kendall Gray went off for 33 points and 30 rebounds.

  3. Draft age limit to be a major issue for NBA, college basketball in near future

    Mar 5, 2015, 8:34 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    With the NBA and NBPA having different views on the limit, college basketball can only wait and see what happens.

  4. Injured Kansas forward’s status will be re-evaluated next week

    Mar 5, 2015, 7:36 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    The only sure thing at this point is that Perry Ellis won’t be on the floor when the Jayhawks visit No. 15 Oklahoma Saturday.

  5. NCAA announces upgrade to its replay and timekeeping systems for men’s and women’s tournaments

    Mar 5, 2015, 6:44 PM EST

    NCAA NCAA

    DVSport will handle the video replay technology, with Precision Timing Systems handling the timekeeping.

  6. Concussion to sideline UNLV freshman guard for Saturday’s regular season finale

    Mar 5, 2015, 5:38 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Patrick McCaw has been one of UNLV’s most consistent players this season, but he’ll have to miss Saturday’s game at San Jose State.

  7. Report: Duke not currently investigating Rasheed Sulaimon

    Mar 5, 2015, 4:56 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    This situation seems certain to end up in a mess.

  8. Pregame Shootaround: No. 6 Wisconsin, two other ranked teams hit the road

    Mar 5, 2015, 4:13 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Both Wisconsin and No. 5 Arizona can wrap up outright conference titles with wins Thursday night.

  9. Indiana’s AD backs Tom Crean, calls hot seat speculation ‘ridiculous’

    Mar 5, 2015, 3:45 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    I don’t think any Indiana fans are listening at this point.

  10. West Coast Conference Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

    Mar 5, 2015, 2:31 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    After winning yet another regular season title, Gonzaga looks to win its third consecutive WCC tournament crown.

  11. Film Session: Who can actually beat Kentucky and why

    Mar 5, 2015, 2:05 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    I’ve been asked the question enough. Here are the answers.

  12. CAA Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

    Mar 5, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    Marcus Thornton (Getty Images) Marcus Thornton (Getty Images)

    The CAA will be the nations most wide-open conference tournament.

  13. Southern Conference Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

    Mar 5, 2015, 12:00 PM EST

    Karl Cochran (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Can Wofford reach their second straight NCAA tournament?

  14. Vermont honors hospitalized recruit with #JoshStrong shirts (PHOTOS)

    Mar 5, 2015, 10:57 AM EST

    Vermont Athletics Vermont Athletics

    Josh Speidel is still in the hospital as he deals with a serious brain injury stemming from a car accident last month.

  15. Oregon State’s Wayne Tinkle starts five walk-ons on Senior Night

    Mar 5, 2015, 9:51 AM EST

    Wayne Tinkle AP

    The catch: None of them were actually seniors.

  16. Potential NCAA tournament bid thieves bubble teams should be rooting against

    Mar 5, 2015, 8:53 AM EST

    Ryan Boatright (Getty Images) Ryan Boatright (Getty Images)

    These eight teams can steal an automatic bid in conferences that will get at-large bids.

  17. Late Night Snacks: Bubble teams Pittsburgh, LSU and Tulsa suffer home losses

    Mar 5, 2015, 1:22 AM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Neither the Panthers nor the Tigers did themselves any favors Wednesday night, with Pittsburgh’s home loss being the costlier of the two defeats.

  18. Bubble Banter: Why LSU losing is bad news for Texas A&M

    Mar 4, 2015, 11:59 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    All of Wednesday’s relevant bubble info can be found right here.