LEAVE YOUR TRIFECTA PICKS IN COMMENTS.
As I mentioned yesterday on The Closers with SleepyFloyd7, right now I'm leaning toward Mizzou finishing about third in the Big 12. This would certainly be a significant accomplishment considering where we thought this team would be a couple of months ago, and it would result in something like a 26-5 regular season record, which is simply outstanding. That said ... if Mizzou has ideas of something better than third place, tomorrow is a good place to start. Beat a likely top four team at their place, despite some key matchup disadvantages, and all bets are off. You know me -- I never bet against a streak, and Mizzou hasn't won at Bramlage since Rickey Paulding left school; but picking against Missouri hasn't worked out very well so far this year, has it?
(And since I mentioned Paulding, I am legally required to share this video.)
Lovely. This video has over 23,000 views; I'm pretty sure 22,000 of them came from me. If this is what it takes to win in Manhattan, then line it up, Phil Pressey.
(Just kidding, Flip. Please don't try that. Even though we know you might be capable of pulling it off.)
Kansas State Wildcats (11-2)
|Pace (No. of Possessions)
|Points Per Minute
|Points Per Possession (PPP)
|Points Per Shot (PPS)
|True Shooting %||53.6%
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
|Expected Off. Rebounds/Gm||13.1
Say this for Frank Martin: he's crafted an identity. Even without Jacob Pullen, and even with some glitches on the defensive glass, Martin's Wildcats his the offensive boards hard, draw a ton of fouls, and play tough, man-to-man defense. They don't go for many steals, they don't shoot free throws well, and as we saw on Wednesday, the offense can certainly dry up in a hurry. But they play a home-friendly style of ball, with plenty of momentum plays (usually based around second-chance points), and they will be a really, really tough out at Bramlage.
Ken Pomeroy Stats
|KSU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks
|KSU Offense||MU Defense||Advantage|
|Off. Reb. %||9
|MU Offense vs KSU Defense Ranks
|MU Offense||KSU Defense||Advantage|
|Off. Reb. %||136
Where the Wildcats are weakest
They turn the ball over too much (eight different players average at least one turnover per game), they foul like crazy (seven players average at least two per game), and somehow they are not a very good defensive rebounding team. The offense can get bogged down at times, but if they are hitting the offensive glass well, they'll still score their points.
Where they are best
Same as always: offensive rebounding, getting to the line, and forcing teams to take bad shots. It is the Frank Martin way. Their Effective Height ranks in the Top 100, and they have four players with Offensive Rebounding rates of 10% or better (Thomas Gipson 14%, Adrian Diaz 13%, Jordan Henriquez 12%, Jamar Samuels 11%). In comparison, Mizzou has just one (Ricardo Ratliffe 15%).
The Wildcats are also capable of getting hot from long range -- three players shoot 40 percent or better from long range -- but as a whole KSU ranks just 182nd in 3-point shooting, so that isn't really a strength.
K-State's Season to Date
- Wins (Team Rank is from KenPom.com)
vs No. 15 Alabama, 71-58
at No. 35 Virginia Tech, 69-61
vs No. 39 Long Beach State, 77-60
vs No. 145 UTEP, 78-70
No. 167 Charleston Southern, 72-67
No. 180 George Washington, 69-56
No. 196 North Florida, 79-68 (OT)
at No. 5 Kansas, 49-67
vs No. 32 West Virginia, 80-85 (2OT)
KSU has played five Top 40 teams (Mizzou has played only one, though Oklahoma was almost Top 40 before getting knocked down to 72nd after Mizzou crushed them), and they have fared mostly well. They avoided major slip-ups versus Charleston Southern and North Florida, and as a whole I think their floor is quite a bit lower than Missouri's, but their ceiling is just about as high, and recent trips to Bramlage suggest Mizzou will get a performance pretty close to their ceiling.
KSU Player Stats
|Jamar Samuels (6'7, 230, Sr.)
||25.8 MPG, 11.8 PPG (49% 2PT, 28% 3PT, 71% FT), 7.0 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.7 TOPG
Rodney McGruder (6'4, 205, Jr.)
||30.6 MPG, 12.7 PPG (54% 2PT, 30% 3PT, 69% FT), 5.2 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 1.2 APG, 1.5 TOPG
Will Spradling (6'2, 180, So.)
||29.6 MPG, 11.3 PPG (48% 2PT, 44% 3PT, 81% FT), 2.8 APG, 2.3 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 1.6 TOPG
|Jordan Henriquez (6'11, 250, Jr.)
||19.4 MPG, 7.4 PPG (58% 2PT, 48% FT), 5.5 RPG, 2.5 BPG, 1.9 TOPG
|Thomas Gipson (6'7, 275, Fr.)
||22.4 MPG, 9.6 PPG (46% 2PT, 51% FT), 6.8 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.8 TOPG
Martavious Irving (6'1, 210, Jr.)
||22.6 MPG, 6.3 PPG (56% 2PT, 26% 3PT, 62% FT), 2.0 APG, 1.8 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 1.1 TOPG
Shane Southwell (6'6, 210, So.)
||21.8 MPG, 4.3 PPG (37% 2PT, 40% 3PT, 67% FT), 3.3 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.4 TOPG
Angel Rodriguez (5'11, 180, Fr.)
||18.5 MPG, 6.8 PPG (29% 2PT, 32% 3PT, 86% FT), 2.2 APG, 2.2 RPG, 1.8 TOPG
|Jeremy Jones (6'2, 170, Jr.)
||9.5 MPG, 3.6 PPG (53% 2PT, 43% 3PT, 67% FT), 1.1 RPG
Adrian Diaz (6'10, 225, Fr.)
||7.0 MPG, 2.8 PPG (70% 2PT, 75% FT), 1.4 RPG
Nino Williams (6'5, 220, RSFr.)
||5.9 MPG, 1.6 PPG, 1.6 RPG
Victor Ojeleye (6'6, 225, Sr.)
||4.5 MPG, 0.9 PPG
* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls. It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.
- Highest Usage%: Gipson (26%), Rodriguez (24%), Samuels (23%), McGruder (21%), Henriquez (21%)
- Highest Floor%: Diaz (47%), Spradling (42%), Irving (40%), Jones (40%)
- Highest %Pass: Southwell (70%), Irving (60%), Spradling (58%), Rodriguez (57%)
- Highest %Shoot: McGruder (49%), Williams (42%), Diaz (41%), Gipson (37%)
- Highest %Fouled: Samuels (28%), Henriquez (24%), Gipson (21%), Williams (20%)
- Highest %T/O: Diaz (16%), Henriquez (14%), Gipson (9%), Jones (9%)
- I joked yesterday on The Closers that K-State's offense is basically "chuck it at the basket, then run a play when you get the rebound." They are very much dependent on second chances, and with their wide array of rebounders, that dependence has certainly paid off for the most part. McGruder is probably the guy most likely to take the first shot in a given possession, but in the end the Wildcats get contributions from quite a few players -- four average at least 9.6 points per game.
Keys to the Game
- The Glass. Duh. In their one true road game (Old Dominion), Mizzou got lit up on the glass. They are more likely to be focused and motivated in a big-time conference matchup instead of a one-off non-conference game versus a mid-major, but Kansas State is very, very active, particularly on the offensive end. If Mizzou can either a) neutralize KSU and grab a healthy percentage of defensive boards or b) match KSU's second-chance opportunities with plenty of their own, then Mizzou's chances of winning this game skyrocket.
- The Whistles. This is almost always the case on the road, but the way this game is called will have an extreme impact on the result. Perhaps the single largest change between Frank Haith's team and Mike Anderson's from last year is that Mizzou has improved from 240th to ninth in terms of fouling (Def. FTA/FGA). They are infinitely better-positioned on defense, but quite a few of KSU's free throw attempts come from second-chance opportunities near the basket. If KSU is grabbing second-chance opportunities, the odds are good that they are also drawing fouls. And if Ratliffe and/or Steve Moore get into foul trouble, then that will just make KSU even better on the boards. At the same time, however, both Gipson and Smuels are incredibly foul-prone. If they begin to get into foul trouble, then KSU's largest advantage is somewhat negated.
I consider myself rather optimistic about the Big 12 season as a whole (though not as optimistic as some), but I am struggling to be too optimistic about this one. Some combination of "never bet against a streak" and "KSU is really good on the offensive glass" has me cowed. Ken Pomeroy has Mizzou pulling this one out, 75-73, but I cannot make myself agree with that. I'll say KSU wins, 72-65, setting up a huge trip to Ames next week. Prove me wrong, boys.