The early-season matchups of the college basketball season are often just as good as those that take place at the end of the year. That might be the case between Kansas and Oregon State.
While the two sides have very different histories from a basketball perspective, the Beavers have improved in recent years and are looking to make this one a game.
Meanwhile, Kansas has reloaded instead of rebuilding and should once again be a contender to reach the Final Four.
Interestingly, the arena should be filled with Jayhawks fans on what is supposedly a "neutral" floor in Kansas City.
It should be quite a non-conference game and it will make both teams better by the time it's over.
Where: Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo.
When: November 30 at 8 p.m. ET
Watch: Jayhawk TV, ESPN Full Court
Live Stream: ESPN3
What's At Stake?
For Oregon State, this is a prime opportunity to get a resume-building win. If the Beavers have any chance to reach the NCAA tournament, wins like this are needed.
In addition, the entire Pac-12 should be rooting for Oregon State to help raise the conference profile. The west coast has not received much respect on the national landscape in recent years, but a win like this could change things in a hurry.
On the other hand, Kansas does not exactly need the win, but it would help quiet concerns. After losing to Michigan State, the Jayhawks want to prove they are still an elite team.
Injury Report (via USA Today)
No injuries to report.
C Angus Brandt (Knee) Out for season
Projected Starting Lineup
Kevin Young, F
Jeff Withey, C
Travis Releford, G
Elijah Johnson, G
Ben McLemore, G
Ahmad Starks, G
Roberto Nelson, G
Eric Moreland, F
Jarmal Reid, F
Joe Burton, F
What They're Saying
So far this season, Kansas has been playing at a slower pace than it is accustomed to. However, going forward, coach Bill Self wants his team to start playing at a more aggressive pace (via Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star):
It’s amazing to me. I tell these guys this all the time. Everybody wants to go to a place where they play fast, and they get there, and they don’t want to commit to playing fast. It takes energy to play fast.
With the skill the Jayhawks have on defense, the team can score a lot more points by getting out on the break after steals and missed shots.
If they can do that with consistency, it will be difficult for any team in the country to stay with them.
Kansas: Jeff Withey
The senior leader is one of the best defensive players in the country and is only getting better.
Withey is coming off the best game of his career with a triple-double against San Jose State. He finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks.
He currently leads the nation with 6.2 blocks per game, and that does not even factor in the many shots that he alters out of fear in opposing players.
Unfortunately, he was relatively invisible in the loss to Michigan State.
In order for Kansas to be successful this season, the big man needs to stay aggressive on both sides of the floor.
Oregon State: Devon Collier
While he does not lead the team in any major category, Devon Collier has been the spark for the Beavers this season.
The junior scored a game-high 27 in a win over Purdue at Madison Square Garden earlier in the year as a follow-up to a 21-point effort the day before.
In the recent game against Montana, he only took four shots, but he still made a major impact in the game with four blocks.
Collier does a little bit of everything for Oregon State, and the team will need his energy and great play to help defeat Kansas.
Prediction: Kansas 73, Oregon State 61
Losing Angus Brandt is big for Oregon State, especially when trying to go up against a center like Jeff Withey. The team simply does not have enough depth to overcome this type of loss and still pull off a major upset.
Kansas is one of the best defensive teams in the country. Every basket will be a challenge for the Beavers, and it will simply not add up to a victory.