(2) Kansas vs. (15) Detroit Preview
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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(2) Kansas Jayhawks
To say that Kansas has exceeded expectations this season would be an understatement. This was supposed to be a down year for them, but you can never sleep on a team coached by Bill Self. Thomas Robinson, who is averaging a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds a game, is a serious Player of the Year candidate. Meanwhile Tyshawn Taylor has been playing as good as any point guard in the country in the second half of the season. Senior center Jeff Withey has emerged as a big-time difference maker, grabbing six rebounds a night and blocking three shots. Kansas is stifling defensively, giving up only 61 points annually while limiting their opponents to 38% shooting. They also block nearly six shots and force seven turnovers a game. Containing the one-two punch of Robinson and Taylor is the starting point for trying to beat the Jayhawks. Shutting them both down is nearly an impossible task. Junior guard Elijah Johnson played some of his best basketball late and is someone to keep an eye on as a game changer.
(15) Detroit Titans
The Titans have some big shoes to fill as the Horizon representative. Butler, who won the league the last two years, advanced to the national championship each time. The Titans finished third in the regular season behind Cleveland State and Valparaiso. They knocked off both of them in the conference tournament to clinch the league’s automatic bid. In Ray McCallum, whose father Ray McCallum Sr. coaches the team, they have a sophomore guard who is firmly on the NBA radar. He leads the team with 15 points and three assists while also grabbing four rebounds. He alone makes the Titans worth watching, but their entire starting five is actually quite talented even without the injured Nick Minnerath. The Titans have good size and experience up front, but their defense is not a strength. The Titans went 0-4 against the RPI Top 75 and are hoping to avoid teams who shoot the three well.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Kansas. We love Ray McCallum, but look for Tyshawn Taylor to win the battle at the point and lead his Jayhawks to the Round of 32.
Who do you think is going win? Chime in by leaving a comment below!