Indiana has one more chance to notch an impressive non-conference win this season as the Kansas Jayhawks come to town in the second game of a home and home with Bill Self’s squad.
As has been the case for the last couple of seasons, the Jayhawks are looking like one of the top teams in the country early on. They come to Assembly Hall at 9-1 with their lone loss to a top-10 Marquette team that was shooting the lights out in Maui.
However daunting Kansas may look on paper, it’s far from a perfect team. Stylistically, Indiana matches up better with the Jawhawks than they have against other opponents, which is why Bart Torvik and KenPom give the Hoosiers a fairly good shot at the upset.
Here’s Three Things to know about Kansas:
In case you haven’t been paying attention to the world of recruiting, Indiana and Kansas have found themselves battling it out for top prospects on a fairly regular basis during the Mike Woodson era.
In the last year alone, Mackenzie Mgbako, Liam McNeeley, Derik Queen, and Flory Bidunga have listed the two schools as among those under consideration.
That Indiana has won multiple of these battles is a sure sign that recruiting is on the upswing under Woodson. Kansas has been one of the top programs for the better part of the last few decades with the NIL, facilities, resume and resources to match.
Saturday’s matchup between the two programs will be another episode in Indiana/Kansas recruiting saga, as the Hoosiers plan to host a number of top prospects. Among them are 2025 wing Joson Sanon and 2025 forward Bryson Tiller, both ranked in the top 15 nationally in their class.
Though high school players are notoriously less concerned with college basketball results than fans are, a win on the court Saturday probably would not hurt Indiana’s chances in those recruitments.
After a couple of substantial losses to non conference opponents, even a close loss would go a long way in demonstrating that Indiana can play with the sport’s best.
Since transferring away from a seemingly declining Michigan program, Hunter Dickinson has emerged as a true player of the year candidate. Entering Saturday’s game, he’s averaging 19.4 points, 12.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.3 blocks per contest.
The good news is that Dickinson is an extremely familiar opponent for Indiana with a 1-3 record against Woodson-coached teams. The bad news is that he’s largely had his way in those four games against the Hoosiers.
In those four matchups, Trayce Jackson-Davis was the key to limiting Dickinson offensively while also making him work on defense. Kel’el Ware will be a much different matchup for Dickinson though, bringing more length and perimeter defense to the table than Indiana’s had in the past.
Dickinson is the best post player Indiana has seen this year, so it’ll be interesting to see how Indiana manages him defensively and how well the Hoosiers’ frontcourt-first offensive approach works against one of the better centers in the game.
Style of play
While frustration has been mounting about Indiana’s lack of 3-point offense, Kansas has been seeing success with a similar style of play. Relying heavily on a front court of Dickinson and K.J. Adams, the Jayhawks are 320th nationally in 3-point attempts.
That said, Kansas makes the 3-pointers it takes. Bill Self’s team is hitting 40.3% of its shots from deep, putting it in the top 15 nationally in 3-point percentage.
Kevin McCullar Jr., Johnny Furphy, Hunter Dickinson, and Dajuan Harris are all shootinng better than 35% from deep on the year, so Indiana cannot afford to lose these guys on the perimeter.
Kansas is also an experienced team, starting two juniors, two seniors, and a freshman with experienced depth at just about every position. If the Hoosiers don’t have Xavier Johnson, Gabe Cupps will have his hands full with a point guard in Harris who has led Kansas for the last three seasons.
A little bit of perimeter scoring would go a long way for Indiana in this matchup, as the Jayhawks are top 10 in opponent 2-point field goal percentage. If the Hoosiers can bring the offense it had for the first six minutes against Auburn, they’ll have a real shot at winning the game.