Pick – Analysis
Similar to last season, Kansas has underperformed in December and early January, most recently losing big at Iowa State. But through it all last season, the Jayhawks still easily won the Big 12 after losing their first home Conference Game. Yet while they already have two losses, they both came on the road and that’s the issue TCU will have in this Game at Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas won both of these meetings last year and while both were close, KU simply had too much late in the Games and pulled away in the final couple minutes. All signs point to this one being the same way mainly because the Horned Frogs haven’t played a Game nearly as difficult as this one. Their lone true road Game came at SMU, while their next hardest Games were against USC and Baylor. They have fewer losses than Kansas, but have played a much easier Schedule.
The biggest problem for TCU in this matchup is that it only has one player that comes in bigger than 6-foot-8 and that’s freshman Kevin Samuel. The good news for TCU is that KU big man Udoka Azubuike is out for the rest of the season and he would’ve been the difference maker in this matchup. Kansas has already lost on the road to Iowa State and to a mediocre Arizona State squad, and even against weaker competition, the Jayhawks struggled to separate in non-Conference play without Azubuike. Without him, it’d be extremely hard to take the Jayhawks to cover, even if the spread is lower than it would normally be at home.
Of course, Kansas still has plenty of talent with Dedric LAwson averaging 18.6 points and 11.1 boards per Game. Kansas could either ride with LAwson and Four guards or turn to Mitch Lightfoot and KJ LAwson a little more at forward. Either way, Dedric LAwson is still a handful for TCU down low. The Frogs have some experience in the frontcOurt outside of Samuel with Kouat Noi and JD Miller, but it’s hard to put them on the same level as a bigger LAwson. That advantage in the frontcOurt will be key for KU because TCU thrives on its three-point defense, allowing 28 percent from long range. While guys like LAgerald Vick and Quentin Grimes can fill it up from deep, both are inconsistent and dragged down overall by Charlie Moore who shoots less than 30 percent. That three-point defense could be what keeps TCU around in this Game, similar to last year’s matchups.
TCU’s offense has looked great this season, but a lot of that has to do with Schedule. The Frogs aren’t much different than a year ago with guys like Desmond Bane (14.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Alex Robinson (13.5 ppg, 8.7 apg) leading the way. The status of fellow guard Jaylen Fisher should also be monitored because he missed TCU’s last Game against Baylor with an ongoing knee issue.
The experience of those TCU guys should keep things competitive, but winning at Allen Fieldhouse is another question. Even without Azubuike, Kansas still has an edge with Dedric LAwson and its backcOurt should be fine against a smaller TCU group. This may not be a blowout (unless Vick and Grimes catch fire), but it should be a win for KU.
Our Pick – Kansas -6