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Archive for Friday, August 4, 2006

Keegan: Sizing up future KU foes

August 4, 2006

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College basketball games aren't played on paper, otherwise Kansas University would have defeated St. Joseph's and Bradley and would have lost to Kentucky and, in the Big 12 tournament final, to Texas.

Upsets happen, as Ralph Sampson discovered facing Chaminade.

Still, it's irresistible to go through the schedule and project a record, based on the favorite in each game.

Doing that with the 2006-2007 KU sked, it's difficult to come up with more than one loss. The 10 toughest games on the schedule, excluding the Big 12 tournament, in which Oklahoma State will be tough to beat because it's in Oklahoma City:

1. Florida, Nov. 25, Las Vegas: All five starters, including Joakim Noah, the most celebratory player in the history of college basketball, return. A piece of advice for Sasha Kaun: Find a life-size poster of Noah celebrating (redundancy) and practice tearing holes in it with your elbows. With Kaun and C.J. Giles taking turns on Noah, with a little Julian Wright here and maybe even a little Darrell Arthur there, Noah could grow so tired he'll forget to pump his fist after every bucket.

2. Boston College, Dec. 23, Allen Fieldhouse: Bullish Craig Smith is gone, but versatile Jared Dudley, shot-blocker deluxe Sean Williams, and difficult-to-defend point guard Tyrese Rice make the Eagles a tough out.

3. Texas, March 3, Allen Fieldhouse: Forward Kevin Durant headlines a six-man recruiting class ranked third in the country behind North Carolina and Ohio State. The weird starting time of 11 a.m. for this CBS game and the fact the freshmen will be experienced so late in the season make this fertile ground for an upset.

4. Texas A&M, Feb. 3, Allen Fieldhouse: Bryan Davis, a 6-foot-9 freshman ranked 47th in the nation by rivals.com, joins center Joseph Jones and guard Acie Law to make the Aggies even better than the team knocked from the tournament by LSU. Digger Phelps, with matching tie and pocket square, will be in town with the rest of the Game Day crew.

5. At Kansas State, Feb. 7: The color purple has become the rage in Cincinnati fashion because so many Bob Huggins fans remain outraged he was forced out by his former school's self-righteous president. Huggins succeeds because he sets the bar high and finds a way to make his players strive for it. He's well aware K-State never has defeated KU in Bramlage Coliseum.

6. Oklahoma State, Jan. 10, Allen Fieldhouse: Strong, quick, relentless, the Cowboys' improvement from a season ago will be tied to how much better wide-body point guard Byron Eaton becomes.

7. At Texas Tech, Jan. 20: Bob Knight isn't going to stand for having a team as bad as last year's.

8. At Baylor, Jan. 24: The Bears will improve immeasurably with preseason games, and the students, livid over losing Arthur to KU at the last minute, will go wild.

9. At De Paul, Dec. 2: While coaching Richmond, Jerry Wainwright's Spiders broke KU's 52-game home winning streak against nonconference opponents. He knows how to get his guys to play with confidence against better teams.

10. At South Carolina, Jan. 7: Leading scorer Tarence Kinsey and first-round draft choice Renaldo Balkman are gone from the back-to-back NIT champs, so even in a hostile environment, the Jayhawks should take care of business.

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