NCAA Tournament Predictions: Kansas vs. Eastern Kentucky

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We Predict the Field

Andrew Wiggins
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

Kansas Jayhawks (24-9, 14-4 Big 12)-This would have been a popular Final Four pick before freshman center (and the consensus No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft) Joel Embiid hurt his back a couple of weeks ago.  Now, the Jayhawks have more questions than answers. They still defeated Oklahoma State in the Big 12 tournament sans Embiid, but fell to Iowa State in the semis.

His numbers weren’t gaudy (11.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.6 bpg), but Embiid’s presence inside was huge for Kansas. Like do-everything freshman Andrew Wiggins, his value lies more in his potential than it does on the court this season. In Embiid’s absence, Wiggins has stepped up–big time–scoring 41 in a loss at West Virginia before going for 30 against Oklahoma State.

Though he didn’t quite live up to the “Next LeBron” hype for much of the season, Wiggins quietly improved as the season went along and may have been the best player in the Big 12. He averaged 17.3 points and 5.9 rebounds this season.

Sophomore forward Perry Ellis (13.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg) was also a force down low and a threat to go for 30 at any time. Kansas’ biggest weakness is its point guard play, which is often shaky behind junior Naadir Tharpe and freshman Frank Mason.

KEY STATS:

6th  Field Goal Percentage (.496)

25th Points per Game (79.5)

33rd Rebounds per Game (38.2)

 
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Walden has come on strong for the Colonels at the end of the year. (AP Photo/David Smith)
Walden has come on strong for the Colonels at the end of the year. (AP Photo/David Smith)

Eastern Kentucky Colonels (24-9, 11-5 OVC)-The Colonels crashed the dance in large part thanks to the play of senior guard Glenn Cosey (18.8 ppg, 4.2 apg). The Juco transfer has made quite an impact on EKU in just his two seasons there, lifting the Colonels from middling OVC team to league champion. Eastern Kentucky ousted league favorites Belmont and Murray State in back-to-back games behind Cosey and junior guard Corey Walden, who went off for 29 in the OVC final.

Both are diminutive in size (6-o and 6-2 respectively), but Cosey and Walden are capable scorers who can really shoot the ball. Walden (14.1 ppg, 3 apg) has come on strong of late, averaging 23 ppg in the OVC tourney. Together, they lead one of the most efficient offensive attacks in college basketball. EKU ranks 10th in the nation in points per possession. The Colonels also rank 25th in assist-to-turnover ratio.

 

KEY STATS:

Points per Possession 10th (1.13)

Assist-to-Turnover Ratio 25th

Assists per Game 55th

Points per Game 29th

Field Goal Percentage 11th

 

Hilarious but Irrelevant Video:

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PREDICTION: Kansas

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