The No. 1-ranked University of Kansas men’s basketball will play No. 4 Marquette in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational on Tuesday.
The Jayhawks (4-0) blew out Chaminade on Monday. Meanwhile, the Golden Eagles, led by coach Shaka Smart, narrowly defeated UCLA.
Below is a scouting report and prediction of the game…
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 4 Marquette
When/where: 9:30 p.m. Central, Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu
Opponent’s record: 4-0
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 12
Betting line: Kansas -4.5
All statistics are from KenPom.com, Hoop-Math.com and EvanMiya. KenPom stats only include Division I competition.
Marquette team strengths
Elite offense: The Golden Eagles ranked eighth in adjusted offensive efficiency (117.5), points per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent
Take care of the ball: Marquette has an 11.7% turnover percentage, ranking 11th in the nation.
Great perimeter defense: The Golden Eagles limit opponents to just 30.8% shooting from deep.
Marquette team weaknesses
Free-throw struggles: The Golden Eagles are shooting just 61.2% from the charity stripe, ranking No. 325 overall.
Limited second chances: Marquette doesn’t corral many offensive rebounds — as they are No. 244 in the country in offensive rebounding percentage (26.3).
Riding the starters: MU coach Shaka Smart tends to play his starters longer minutes, as the Golden Eagles rank No. 146 in bench minutes percentage (32.8).
Marquette Name to Know
6-foot-5 junior guard Kam Jones (No. 1)
+ Team leading scorer (17.5 points per game)
+ Elite sharpshooter (46.2% from deep)
+ Experienced player (36 starts and 29.9 minutes per game last year)
– Struggles at the line (66.3% career free throw percentage)
Tale of the Tape
The Golden Eagles aren’t shy about shooting 3-pointers, with 43.1% of their field-goal attempts coming from deep.
Here, MU forward David Joplin drew the defender inside, quickly backtracked to the 3-point line and canned the 3 over the UCLA player who didn’t get to the shot in time. It was Joplin’s fifth 3-pointer of the night.
KU’s perimeter defense will be tested against the Golden Eagles, so the Jayhawks must communicate well to avoid screens. On top of that, KU players can’t fall asleep against Marquette shooters who constantly run around.
While Marquette loves to shoot 3s, the Golden Eagles are also elite inside the arc. MU ranks No. 25 in 2-point percentage (59.3%).
Here, MU guard Chase Ross fearlessly attacked the rim on a fast break and converted a tough layup over two UCLA players. Ross is shooting 70% at the rim this season, so expect him to go at KU defenders whenever possible.
The Jayhawks must balance forming a wall in the paint while not losing sight of shooters in this matchup.
This game could be Final Four preview.
On offense, Kansas will need to attack the rim against Marquette. The Golden Eagles don’t have a stout rim protector besides forward Oso Ighodaro; MU’s block rate (10.7%) ranks No. 236 in the nation.
Conversely, Marquette will test KU’s defense on all fronts. The big thing for the Jayhawks will be limiting the Golden Eagles from deep. Kansas doesn’t have the shooting consistency or 3-point shooting to go toe-to-toe from deep with Marquette.
Kansas should come out on top if it can limit Marquette from 3-point range.
Kansas 72, Marquette 68
Shreyas’ pick to cover the spread: Marquette (+4.5)
Shreyas’ season record: 3-0
Shreyas’ record against the spread: 2-1
KU player to watch: Dajuan Harris
Kansas point guard Dajuan Harris will have a tough defensive matchup, whether he guards MU’s Kam Jones or Tyler Kolek. If he can limit their impact, it’ll be huge.
On the offensive end, Harris needs to be aggressive. Marquette, like Kentucky, will likely leave Harris open and dare him to shoot. He can’t hesitate and needs to take those shots when left open.