The Kansas Jayhawks (7-1) have won 299 games in the 2010s decade. On Tuesday night they’ll look for their 300th win of the decade and their eighth in a row this season when they play their last game at Allen Fieldhouse this calendar year against Milwaukee (5-4).
KU is playing just as well, if not better than every other team in the country. At home once again against an inferior opponent, the Jayhawks have a good chance to pick up another big win to keep their early season momentum going.
Kansas is still second in the AP top-25 poll, only trailing undefeated Louisville. The Jayhawks have played an excellent stretch of basketball since the season-opening loss to Duke. Along with a No. 5 overall ranking from KenPom, KU’s offense is ranked 16th and the defense is even better at No. 7.
Senior center Udoka Azubuike and sophomore guard Devon Dotson are playing like the best duo in the game right now. Azubuike is averaging 14.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game while Dotson is leading KU in scoring at 19.5 points per contest. While those two have been playing like superstars, the rest of the roster has been playing well, too. Junior guard Marcus Garrett is one of the best all-around players in the country right now, even with his lack of perimeter shooting, while sophomore guard Ochai Agbaji recorded a double-double (20 points, 12 rebounds) on Saturday against Colorado.
Two of Milwaukee’s five wins this season are against Division III teams. The Panthers won one of those games by just 10 points. They also lost their last game on the road against Drake, and already have home losses to George Washington and Rice this year.
Milwaukee is very bad.
The Panthers are ranked 237 in KenPom currently, they’re scoring 70.3 points per game against Division I opponents and they’re allowing 70.1 points per game against the same group. That hasn’t come against a tough schedule, though; UWM has the 334th-ranked nonconference strength of schedule (per KenPom). There isn’t much to like about this team.
How much run will each of the bigs get? Azubuike will be able to do whatever he wants against a small team that doesn’t rebound well and commits a ton of fouls. This may be a good game to get some more minutes for junior forward Silvio de Sousa and sophomore forward David McCormack. De Sousa played quality minutes against Colorado and could use some time to get in a rhythm, while McCormack has played well all around so far this year, but is still playing just a tick under 17 minutes per game. If the Jayhawks go up big early, expect the non-Azubuike big men to see more action.
Who will they try to take away? Milwaukee doesn’t have the kind of talent to play straight up against Kansas and think it can slow down everyone on the court. The easy option here is Azubuike, and the Panthers could just throw bodies at the center and hope he struggles with turnovers at the free throw line. If coach Pat Baldwin thinks Dotson is the most essential part of the Jayhawks’ attack, then UWM may try to scheme him out of the game. In the end, though, KU may just have too many weapons for any creative defensive scheme to matter.
Agbaji. He went off in KU’s win over Colorado, and now the next step is seeing if he can score and shoot consistently. The Jayhawks have two reliable offensive in Dotson and Azubuike, but if Agbaji can develop more consistency they suddenly have one of the best trios in all of college basketball. Milwaukee is a great candidate for a team to build confidence against.
Junior guard Te’Jon Lucas. A two-year player for Illinois, Lucas has taken the reigns as Milwaukee’s best player in his first year with the Panthers. He’s leading UWM is scoring (15), assists (4.5) and steals (1.9) this year. The Panthers are going to struggle to score and make plays against a more talented and more athletic Jayhawks group, so look for them to feed Lucas constantly in hopes of making a few shots.
That’s a ton of points, but the Jayhawks are playing well and the Panthers just aren’t a good team this year. We’re sticking with Kansas’ hot streak and expecting a huge win.