On Friday, the Kansas Jayhawks will take on the Eastern Kentucky Colonels in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
The Jayhawks have been given a 2-seed, while Eastern Kentucky has received a 15-seed in the Southern region of this years tourney. The Jayhawks received an “at-large” Big 12 bid, while the Colonels got an automatic bid by winning the Ohio Valley Conference post-season tournament.
For many college basketball fans, this seems like an obvious mismatch and a foregone conclusion, as is assumed with most 2 vs. 15 matchups.
This may be the case, but who are these Eastern Kentucky Colonels? They have to be good to win their conference tournament, right?
The Colonels have gone 24-9 thus far, and have been rewarded with their first NCAA tournament birth since 2007, where they lost to the North Carolina Tar Heels in the first round 86-65.
The Colonels strength is their scoring ability. They average 79 points-per-game, while shooting around 54% from the field and 75% from the free-throw line. Their glaring weakness is their inability to rebound (-6.1 rpg margin). This problem stems from their roster, which lacks a player taller than 6-foot-8.
The teams leading scorers are guards Glenn Cosey (18.8 ppg) and Corey Walden (14.1 ppg) Cosey is a 6-foot tall senior who also leads his team in assists and has a decent 2.2 assist/turnover ratio. Walden, another short guard, is a junior who is a bit more careless with the ball and leads his team in turnovers, with over two per game.
Cosey and Walden will need to have the game of their lives, if they want to have any chance to upset or even compete with the Jayhawks on Friday.
The only glaring problem for the Kansas Jayhawks in this game is the fact that they will again be without star-freshman Joel Embiid. Fortunately for the Jayhawks, they have a deep front-court with the likes of Perry Ellis, Tarik Black, and Jamari Traylor.
Even without Embiid, the Jayhawks should dominate the paint and out-rebound this shorter Eastern Kentucky squad, as well as put up gobs of points in the paint.
Taking all of this into consideration, I predict that the Kansas Jayhawks will win their second round match up comfortably against a team that has never won an NCAA tournament game. If EKU were able to win the game, it could be the biggest upset in Kansas’ NCAA tournament history.