Buckle up Cougar fans, this is a big one. The Big 12 Conference is widely viewed by college basketball fans as the premier conference is the country. According to Joe Lunardi’s most recent Bracketology report, there were a projected nine teams in his NCAA Tournament field. This includes a projected No. 6 seed for BYU.

Tuesday night, the Cougars are set to clash with the face of Big 12 basketball. Kansas is a national brand recognized by all sports fans. When the Big 12 basketball schedule was announced, BYU faithful were quick to circle Feb. 27 on their calendars. As the matchup looms closer here is a more comprehensive preview on what Cougar fans can look for before tip off.

Kansas’ historical context

The Jayhawks are the second-most winningest program in NCAA Basketball history. They have won four national championships, 51 NCAA Tournament appearances, and the most winning seasons in NCAA Division I Basketball history with 104. Kansas has qualified for 33 consecutive NCAA Tournaments and has not lost in the opening round of the tournament since 2006.

The Jayhawks also have won the Big 12 regular season titles in both 2022 and 2023 with hopes to win their third consecutive this season. Two years removed from their most recent national championship, the Jayhawks feel they have the talent to capture the programs 5th national title.

The game will be played in the famed Allen Fieldhouse. Since its opening in 1955, Kansas has lost only 113 times in the venue. BYU will be making its 4th visit all time to the arena and hope to win in a gym that has a winning percentage of over 87% all time.

Impressive 2-way stats

The Jayhawks have found success on both end of the floor during the 2023-2024 season.

Offensively, Kansas is 5th in the Big 12 in scoring averaging 77 points per contest. This is also bolstered by a conference high 50.2% field goal percentage as a team. The Jayhawks do their work largely within the 3 point arch as they average a Big 12 low 17.2 3 pointers a game. BYU in contrast averages 32.4. Kansas has been excellent with its ball movement this season as well averaging 19.7 assists per game which is also the leading Big 12 number. However, The Jayhawks have struggled to create second chance opportunities as they sit in last place when it comes to offensive rebounding with only eight per contest.

On the defensive end, Kansas also ranks 5th in points allowed in the Big 12 surrendering only 67.6 per game. It also has limited opponents field goal percentage to 39.7%, which is second best in the conference behind No. 1 ranked Houston. The Jayhawks have proven to be phenomenal in the rebounding department as they have posted the best mark in the conference with 28.1 defensive rebounds per game.

Issues with depth

Depth has at times proven to be the Achilles heel of this year’s Kansas squad.

The Jayhawks starting five has been incredible this season with all five players averaging 8 points and an average of 31.92 minutes between them. However, outside of these 5 players Kansas does not have a single bench player averaging more than 4.2 points and 19 minutes. To make matters worse, the Big 12’s leading scorer, Kevin McCullar Jr., will be missing Tuesday’s matchup, and perhaps the rest of the season due to injury.

Remaining for Kansas is All-America big man Hunter Dickinson, who is posting 18.3 points per game to go along with a conference high 10.9 rebounds. Dickinson is shooting 55.7% from the field and has proven himself to be one of the elite players in the country. K.J Adams Jr. is also averaging 12.4 points per game. Dajuan Harris Jr. leads the team in assists with 6.5 to go along with 8.3 points.

Conclusion

Tuesday will be the 6th meeting between the two schools. BYU is 1-4 all-time against the Jayhawks. This will be BYU’s 4th visit to Allen Fieldhouse, but the first since 1971. Both teams are expected to make the NCAA Tournament and are fighting for Big 12 Tournament seeding. An upset for the Cougars would likely be considered one of the biggest wins in program history and put them back into the AP Top 25 rankings.

BYU fans should feel confident that the Cougars will be able to compete in a game that a several months ago nobody gave them a chance in. They should at least count themselves lucky knowing that this is a matchup they can count on for years to come.

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