Riding a six-game winning streak into Kansas, the Georgetown Hoyas are looking for their biggest win of the season so far against the Jayhawks during a Saturday matinee showdown.
A tremendous non-conference matchup that pits two of college basketball's most storied programs against each other, Georgetown will look to prove that its 7-2 record is no fluke and the team deserves to be in the Top 25. Kansas, on the other hand, has gotten off to a less than ideal start with losses to Villanova, Colorado, and Florida (all on the road) and are looking to notch a resume-building win as the Jayhawks' non-conference schedule winds down.
Kansas' 7-3 record has nothing to do with talent and everything to do with youth and inexperience. Along with superstar freshman Andrew Wiggins, the Jayhawks top players are center Joel Embiid, shooting guard Wayne Selden, and forward Perry Ellis. Of those players, only Ellis has previous collegiate playing experience. With that much youth on the floor at once, growing pains are to be expected. Match that with the nation's toughest schedule to date and it's no surprise that the Jayhawks have stumbled on the road against top competition.
The talent in place is more than capable of making a deep NCAA Tournament run and with Bell Self at the helm, there is no doubt that this team will get better and better with every game.
Joel Embiid poses the biggest threat to the Hoyas due to his combination of strength, size, and mobility. Embiid, a Cameroon native who only started playing basketball in the States three years ago, is a legit seven-footer and widely regarded as a top-10 pick in the upcoming Draft. Though he is still very raw, Embiid is averaging 20.7 minutes, 9.8 points, 6.5 boards and 2.4 blocks per game while shooting 66.1% from the field and 61.5% from the stripe.
Against Georgetown, Embiid has an opportunity to make life very hard on center Joshua Smith. Smith, who has found himself in foul trouble far too often this season, will have to play the best game of the season on both ends of the floor if the Hoyas look to pull off the road upset.
Smith has been up and down so far, but has shown flashes of being a threat down low and is coming off a very solid two game stretch that has seen him average 16 points. Smith is very crafty in the post and has quick feet for a man so big. Against Embiid, Smith will have to use his experience and do all he can to get Kansas' big man in foul trouble.
A matchup to keep an eye on all afternoon will be between Wiggins and Georgetown's Jabril Trawick. Wiggins, who, if you recall, came into this season heralded as the basketball messiah, hasn't put up the huge numbers that some expected, but has been putting together a solid freshman campaign and has clearly been one of the top players in the country. Wiggins currently leads the Jayhawks with 15.9 points per game and is grabbing 5.9 boards per.
Trawick will draw the job of neutralizing the super talented frosh and is more than up to the task. At 6-5, 210 pounds, Trawick is Georgetown's top defensive player and is absolutely relentless, setting the tone for a Georgetown defense that is holding teams to 36.7 percent shooting and 64.9 points per game.
Hoyas guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera will finally get his chance to shine in the national spotlight and show the rest of the nation just how much he has improved since last season. The sophomore guard has stepped up big time and has filled the void left by Rutgers transfer Greg Whittington. DSR is averaging 16.9 points, 4.6 boards, 2.9 assists, and 1.4 steals per game while shooting a 48-46-83 split. He has been far and away Georgetown's top player this season and has a chance to launch himself into the national conversation on Saturday. He draws a tough matchup against Kansas' Wayne Selden, who has a similar game and will challenge Smith-Rivera on both ends.
One of the few seniors who will be taking the floor tomorrow, Georgetown's Markel Starks will be key for the Hoyas. Starks barely comes off the floor on gameday--he averages 35 minutes per game--and he is the most trustworthy guard on the roster. The 6-2, 175 pound guard is averaging a career high 15.7 points and 4.8 dimes per game.
In close games, JTIII wants the ball in his hands due to his 90.9% free throw shooting rate. Starks will have to penetrate the Kansas' defense and set his teammates up early and often to get them comfortable in a hostile environment.
Numbers-wise, the two teams matchup very well: The Hoyas currently rank 105th in points per game (76.6), 159th in rebounds per game (36.2), 51st in assists per game (15.4), and 36th in field goal percentage (48.9%) while the Jayhawks rank 87th (77.4), 99th (37.8), 56th (15.3), and 15th (50%), respectively.
The Jayhawks have played the toughest schedule in the country thus far and have an RPI rank of number three, the team is 0-2 on the road, 3-0 at home, and 1-3 against Top 25 teams. Comparatively, the Hoyas rank 138th in strength of schedule, rank 69th in RPI, are 5-0 at home, are yet to play a true road game, and 0-1 against the current Top 25 (though they did beat VCU when they were ranked tenth).
While the Hoyas do matchup will with the Jayhawks across the board, Georgetown is yet to play a true road game and Allen Fieldhouse is not the place to get your feet wet for the season. Georgetown's habit of starting off games slow will finally come back to haunt them when the Jayhawks pull away in crunch time.