As always the Monday slate doesn’t give us much to work with but I did find one that I see some value in. Here we go….
TCU (-2.5): This is going to be a very weird stat to hear, but Kansas has won just one road game all season. Yes Kansas, a true blue blood of College Basketball has made it until mid February notching just one road win. It’s both unfair and a compliment to compare them against themselves, but in truth you could argue this is the worst Kansas team since Self’s first year back in 2004. Don’t get me wrong, they are still good but they are their typically dominant selves this season. Now obviously the loss of Azubuike is largely to blame but there are still some other issues at play. Now before I get into some things the Jayhawks should be doing better I’ll start by saying I still have them power ranked #17 in the nation. This is still a good, just no longer great team. On the negative side the struggle rebounding, are awful from the FT line, and now with Vick out an already ho-hum 3 point shooting team becomes even less dangerous from out there. The main bright spot on this team is Lawson who has clearly become their best player. He’s likely looking at 1st team all BIG-12 this year and it will be well earned. He’s averaging a double-double and is a real nightmare to deal with. From the TCU perspective stopping, or at least slowing him down is paramount to their chances of winning. That was going to be true regardless but now with Vick out controlling Lawson is critical. A big part of that will fall on Samuel who is really starting to emerge as an impact Freshman for the Frogs. He’s averaging 2.4 blocks per game in conference play and altering tons of shots at the rim. If Lawson can’t really get untracked then Kansas figures to be in trouble. TCU defends the 3 point line very, very well and Kansas as I mentioned earlier isn’t much of a 3 point shooting team as it is. TCU is 22nd in 3 point percentage defense allowing opponents to shoot barely over 30% from deep. Also only 27.2% of the points they allow are from 3 and that’s 311th lowest in the nation. They are a little bit more vulnerable inside and that’s where the Lawson/Samuel battle is going to be huge. Offensively TCU doesn’t have any one superstar but instead a very well rounded and balanced attack. Bane and Noi score 15 a game, Robinson chips in 13, Miller is averaging double digits, and Samuel in addition to being a great defensive player is starting to find his way offensively too. When these teams met last month it took a video game like effort from Lawson for Kansas to win. He went for 31 points, 14 rebounds, 3 steals, while going 10 of 19 from the floor. Even with that Kansas only went for 1.04 PPP as a team that night. In other words it took Lawson going completely nuts for the team to overall be about D1 average in terms of efficiency. I’m not expecting him to match those numbers tonight, and if he doesn’t it’s very likely that overall Kansas has some trouble offensively. TCU is 29th in the nation in offensive efficiency and after an 0.92 clunker last month in Lawrence I think we see a solid performance tonight at home as they look for revenge. I see a 78-71 type win for TCU.