Busting Brackets

Kansas vs Marquette: 2023-24 college basketball game preview, TV schedule

Kansas senior center Hunter Dickinson (1) reacts after sinking a three in the first half of Monday's game against North Carolina Central inside Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas senior center Hunter Dickinson (1) reacts after sinking a three in the first half of Monday's game against North Carolina Central inside Allen Fieldhouse. /

A highly anticipated semifinals matchup at the Maui Invitational sees Kansas face Marquette; can the Jayhawks defend their top ranking or do the Golden Eagles get another major win?

TV schedule: Tuesday, November 21, 10:30 pm ET. ESPN

Arena: Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, Hawaii

You won’t find much to complain about at Kansas (4-0), as the Jayhawks have looked sharp to begin a season with high expectations. Bill Self’s squad looks not only like a heavy favorite in the Big 12 but one of the best favorites to cut down the nets in April. While three of their games have been relatively uneventful, they also secured a key victory last week over Kentucky and are about to get even more battle tested.

The clear headline for the Jayhawks in the offseason was the addition of Hunter Dickinson (22.0 ppg, 12.3 rpg), the transfer from Michigan who’s a former All-American and very talented big man. He joins forced with Dajuan Harris Jr. (8.3 ppg, 8.0 apg) who just might be the nation’s best point guard. As if that wasn’t enough, Kevin McCullar Jr. (16.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 6.3 apg) has played exceptionally this season while KJ Adams Jr. (14.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg) is another name to watch in the frontcourt.

Sitting pretty at #1 in the AP Top 25, the Jayhawks are actually 4th in KenPom, sitting just 12th in the nation in offensive efficiency. They’ve had a pretty weak schedule to this point, outside of that game against the Wildcat. The Jayhawks actually struggled shooting from beyond the arc against Chaminade in the first game of this tournament, though their defense has done enough to this point.

Across the court, Marquette (4-0) won last year’s Big East title and then returned a significant portion of the talent that led them there. Shaka Smart’s program really took a big step forward last season and is looking for even more success in his third season in Milwaukee. His team has already won at Illinois and against a tough UCLA in the first round of this event.

Last year’s Big East Player of the Year is back again, as Tyler Kolek (14.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.7 apg) will play a major role in the Golden Eagles’ success this season. Junior guard Kam Jones (19.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg) plays a significant role in Marquette’s backcourt as well and has great shooting figures already this season. Senior forward Oso Ighodaro (13.0 ppg, 8.7 rpg) is a menace down low while David Joplin just put up 19 points in their win against the Bruins late on Monday.

The Golden Eagles are #4 in the AP Top 25 but are also rated lower by the metrics, coming in at just 12th in the KenPom rankings. They possess an elite offense, as was certainly the case last season, and have done just enough on defense in these last two Quad 1-type victories. Marquette is battle-tested early and certainly face one of their toughest battles ahead this time around.

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that this Kansas squad is the top-ranked team in the nation for a reason. Not only do they have Dickinson and Harris, two of the best in the nation at their respective positions, but the rest of this rotation is filled with talent. This is Marquette’s biggest challenge for a major reason. Plus, the Jayhawks were barely challenged by Chaminade, while UCLA took the Golden Eagles down to the wire.

Next. Latest top-25 power rankings. dark

These teams are playing a second game in two days and that energy expended last night will be a factor. Kansas is certainly favored against basically any team in the nation on a neutral court, though we can’t count out the Golden Eagles’ resilience and potent offense. We’ve got #1 against #4 and it’s not even the tournament finals. We’ll get a great game, but we’re leaning towards the Jayhawks to get to the title game.

Prediction: Kansas 75, Marquette 72