Today at 2 p.m, No. 16 seed Penn men's basketball will tip off against No. 1 seed Kansas. While the Quakers enter the game as major underdogs, there's no shortage of star power on either team.
Before Penn tries to pull off what may just be the greatest upset in college basketball history, get to know four of the star players from each team.
Sophomore guard Ryan Betley — Averaging 14.5 points per game, Betley led Penn in points this season and proved himself as one of the best scorers in the Ivy League. As a 39 percent three-pointer shooter, Betley does most of his damage from behind the arc, but the All-Ivy second-teamer is also capable of slashing to the hoop. If the Quakers are going to be able to compete with Kansas, expect for Betley to need to have a big day offensively.
Sophomore forward AJ Brodeur — Brodeur, who was unanimously selected as first-team All-Ivy, has been Penn’s most consistent weapon all season. But he saved his best for the Quakers’ past two games in the Ivy League Tournament, where he averaged 20.5 points and 10 rebounds per game. He will have his hands full if Kansas’ 7-foot, 280 pound center Udoka Azubuike is healthy to play, but if Azubuike has to sit out, there is a lot less reason to be concerned about Brodeur staying out of foul trouble and being able to score in the post.
Senior guard Darnell Foreman — Without Foreman’s legendary first-half performance against Harvard in the Ivy Championship, the Quakers’ season would likely be over. But Foreman, who was named honorable-mention All-Ivy, stepped up for Penn when the team needed him most, and will likely need to do so again for the Red and Blue to have a shot. Foreman will be physically out-matched by Kansas’ star-studded backcourt, but the Camden native doesn’t seem to be intimidated easily.
Senior guard Caleb Wood — After Wood finished last season at the bottom of Penn’s rotation, it was hard to imagine him having such a big role this season. But in his senior season, Wood has solidified his role as the Quakers’ best scoring off the bench. He hit clutch three-pointers in both of the Red and Blue’s wins over Harvard this season, and similar to Betley, will probably need to have a big day from distance for Penn to keep pace with the Jayhawks.
Senior guard Devonte' Graham — Graham is one of the best players in the nation, and talent wise he's going to be the best player on the floor today. The Big 12 Player of the Year does just about everything for the Jayhawks; he leads the team in both points (17.3) and assists (7.5) per game while also playing strong defense. He's especially lethal from behind the arc, where he shoots 41.2 percent. If he has a big game, the Quakers don't stand much of a chance.
Senior guard Sviatosla Mykhailiuk — Mykhailiuk is Graham's partner in crime from three-point range. The Cherkasy, Ukraine native and All-Big 12 second-team honoree leads the team with a 45.3 shooting percentage from deep, good enough for 13th in the nation. He's also 6-foot-8, meaning that he could provide some mismatches on the perimeter against Penn's smaller guards. While he does contribute elsewhere on the floor, his value to Kansas derives from his three-point shooting.
Sophomore guard Malik Newman — Newman has turned on the jets as of late. In the Big 12 Tournament, he averaged 24.0 points per game on 62.5 percent shooting, good enough to be named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. He's yet another weapon for the Jayhawks to lean on from downtown, where he shoots 40.9 percent. Despite being 6-2, he's also one of the team's most consistent rebounders, notching just under five per game.
Sophomore center Udoka Azubuike — The big question coming into this game is whether the 7-foot, 280 pound Azubuike will be ready to go. He sat out the Big 12 Tournament due to a knee injury, and Kansas coach Bill Self has been going back and forth on his availability all week. If he plays, he's a matchup nightmare for the Quakers, with four inches on both Brodeur and Rothschild. If he can't go, look for the Jayhawks to turn to up-and-coming freshman forward Silvio De Sousa, who had success in an expanded role during the Big 12 Tournament.
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