The No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks open up their 2016-2017 regular season campaign this Friday at the Armed Forces Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii as they take on the No. 11 Indiana Hoosiers at 8 PM.
The 2016 Classic will be at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in and will feature two historically great teams that both rank in the top 10 all-time in Division 1 victories, with Kansas ranking 2nd and Indiana coming in at 10th.
The Jayhawks, lead by head coach Bill Self, are coming off of a succesful pair of exhibition contests, defeating Washburn, 92-74 and Emporia State, 104-62.
Kansas is led by their dynamic duo of guards in Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham, as well as highly touted No. 1 recruit Josh Jackson and returning big man Landen Lucas. Mason III led the Jayhawks in pre-season scoring at 19 points-per-game, while sharpshooter Svi Mykhailiuk came in at number two with a 16-point-per-game clip.
Mason III also led the Jayhawks in assists-per-game at 7 while additionally leading Kansas in rebounding at 6.5 per game.
The Hoosiers, lead by head coach Tom Crean, finished their exhibition season 2-0 as well, defeating Hope College, 98-65 and Bellarmine University, 73-49.
Indiana is led by the prolific scoring junior guard James Blackmon Jr. as well as some NBA prospects in sophomores Thomas Bryant and OG Anunoby. Anunoby led the Hoosiers in pre-season scoring at 21 points-per-game.
Sophomore center Thomas Bryant led Indiana in rebounding at 9.5 per game, while junior point guard Josh Newkirk led the Hoosiers in assists at 5.5 per clip.
Matchup to watch:
SG: Devonte’ Graham vs. James Blackmon Jr.
Graham, one of KU’s best perimeter defenders, had his best season at Kansas in 2015-16, scoring 11.3 points-per-game while recording 3.3 rebounds-per-game and 3.7 assists-per-game.
The junior guard had two breakout games versus Oklahoma a season ago, surpassing 20 points in both meetings. Graham also put in 17 big points in Kansas’ Elite 8 loss to Villanova.
Blackmon Jr. returns for the Hoosiers as their top scorer at 15.8 points-per-game in only 13 games a season ago due to injuries. The junior guard’s biggest games were against Alcorn State (33 points), McNeese State (24 points), and Austin Peay (20 points). Expect a full healthy Blackmon Jr. to be Indiana’s offensive focal point.
This will be the 14th meeting between Kansas and Indiana since 1995: the Hoosiers lead the series 7-6.
The Jayhawks and Hoosiers will sport some impressive threads that can be seen here.