Every Monday, The Star delves into Kansas basketball — and the week ahead. Here’s the latest installment of the weekly feature.
By RUSTIN DODD
The Kansas City Star
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The new polls won’t come out until this afternoon, but this much seems obvious: Michigan, Kansas and Florida will likely be the new top three in the latest Associated Press poll — maybe in that order.
Florida, 16-2, has been leaving a trail of dust in the SEC, posting eight straight victories after falling to Kansas State at the Sprint Center in December. Michigan, 19-1, meanwhile, suffered its only loss at rival Ohio State on Jan. 13. And Kansas, winners of 17 straight, will attempt to move to 7-0 in the Big 12 tonight at West Virginia. [UPDATE: Michigan and Kansas split the No. 1 spots in the AP and coaches polls.]
All three schools have played like top-three teams at times, but who deserves to be No. 1? Here’s the tempo-free computer profile for all three teams, via KenPom.com.
Offense efficiency: 1st (124.8 points per 100 possessions)
Defensive efficiency: 39th (90.0)
Offense efficiency: 18th (112.6)
Defensive efficiency: 3rd (83.5)
Offense efficiency: 2nd (123.5)
Defensive efficiency: 1st (81.0)
Bottom line: Michigan’s defensive issues could cost them a loss or two in a loaded Big Ten, while Florida may struggle to find consistent challenges in a watered-down SEC. And, of course, Kansas’ offensive struggles are well-documented. Then again, given the fickle nature of this season, it’s likely that the top of the polls will have shifted again by next Monday.
Scouting West Virginia
Since Bob Huggins arrived in Morgantown, the Mountaineers have generally profiled as a rugged, defensive-minded program. But even with that in mind, West Virginia has been offensively-challenged this season, connecting on just 39.5 percent of its shots from the field, the 315th best mark in the nation.
One key: Freshman guard Eron Harris is averaging 15.8 points in his last four games and provides the best option from deep; he’s made 42.6 percent (23 for 53) of his three-point attempts.
It’s likely that Kansas will be the highest-ranked team to play in the WVU Coliseum since No. 2 UCLA — with Russell Westbrook and Aaron Afflalo — arrived on February 10, 2007, according to The Dominion Post. The Bruins left with a 70-65 defeat.
Monday morning links
The Internet loves Jeff Withey. This “Withey Block Party” video, produced by Kansas’ in-house video crew, played during a timeout at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday and has since found a home on YouTube. (Kudos to the KU official who convinced Withey to don that shirt.) Maybe it doesn’t quite measure up to this, but it’s certainly better than the growing list of Withey-inspired songs.
Kansas is breaking out some alternate, nearly all-blue road jerseys for tonight’s Big Monday matchup in Morgantown. If you want a sneak peek, click on this link.