As expected, Toledo has had zero problems with its non-conference schedule. Despite close contests with Boston College and Cleveland State earlier in the season, the Rockets still hold a +13.1 scoring margin over their opponents. On Monday night, Toledo will put that scoring margin to test against the nationally ranked Kansas Jayhawks in one of the craziest environments in all of college basketball. Kansas is coming off one of its best victories of the season by defeating the Georgetown Hoyas, 86-64 on December 21. The Rockets, on the other hand, are coming off a 85-66 victory over Coppin State at home on December 28.
Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks feature one of the most dominant starting lineups in the nation, led by freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins who leads the team with 15.5 points per game. However, Kansas also gets big contributions from sophomore forward Perry Ellis who is averaging just over 13 points per contest. Despite the Jayhawks' powerful offense which averages 78.2 points per game, Kansas takes a lot of pride in its defense. Freshman center, Joel Embiid is known as the defensive anchor for the Jayhawks and leads the team with 25 blocked shots while also leading Kansas in rebounds with 6.6 per game and adding 10.6 points per contest on offense. Head coach, Bill Self has the Jayhawks at 8-3 thus far on the season and ranked No. 16 in the country.
Meanwhile, the Rockets enter Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas maintaining a perfect 12-0 overall record thus far on the season, and looking to get one of the biggest wins in program history. The 12-0 start for head coach Tom Kowalczyk and the Rockets marks the best start for the program since the 1966-67 campaign when they began the season 14-0. The Rockets take pride in out-rebounding opponents with their 37.5 rebounds per game, however, the Jayhawks average 37.9 rebounds per game. The glass will be a key matchup in determining Toledo's success vs. Kansas.
Toledo is led by senior guard Rian Pearson who leads the team in scoring with 16.6 points per game as well as junior forward Justin Drummond who is second on the team with 14.8 points per game. Drummond also is a big help in the team's rebounding efforts with 4.6 boards per contest. Junior forward J.D. Weatherspoon and sophomore center Nathan Boothe could play a key role in how the game goes for the Rockets. Weatherspoon and Boothe are the two leading rebounders for Kowalczyk's Rockets with eleven rebounds between the two per contest and if they are unable to prevent second-chance scores for the Jayhawks, it could be a long night.
If the Kansas bigs are able to get offensive rebounds and second chance points, the game will have a chance to get ugly for Toledo. In the hostile environment of Allen Fieldhouse, Toledo will also need several fast break scores to keep the crowd out of the game. The Rockets have forced 13.4 turnovers per game this season and will need to force all they can against a very discipline Kansas team in a nationally-anticipated match-up on Monday.
Despite the national attention the Toledo/Kansas match-up is gaining, the game can only be seen online on ESPN3.com beginning at 7:00 pm Eastern time.
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