Preview: Kansas State at Kansas

Ken Pomeroy has one-upped my previous individual stats efforts, offering a more complete and more readable breakdown. Check it out. Prior to the debacle in Bramlage Wednesday night, when the Wildcats held Nebraska below 40-percent from the field, forced turnovers on 22.5% of Nebraska's possessions, and still lost by 15, I would have figured Kansas State to be a serious contender for a top 6 spot in the conference this year.

Kansas State's three road losses had come by 1 at Washington State, by 5 at Northern Illinois, and by 2 points at Iowa State. None of those were embarrassing losses (though the Northern Illinois loss looked better before the Huskies current 3-2 stretch against teams all ranked below 90 in the Pomeroy ratings) and the Wildcats could point to a solid home win over Colorado State as well. The narrow home win over Belmont was not encouraging, but it seemed atypical prior to the Iowa State and Nebraska losses.

For much of their non-conference slate, Kansas State's offense survived their mediocre field goal shooting and penchant for turning the ball over with good offensive rebounding and outstanding free throw shooting. In the last five games the frequency of their turnovers has increased, the number of free throw attempts and their free throw percentage have both decreased, and Northern Illinois (82.8 DR%) and Nebraska (78 DR%) were both able to keep the Wildcats off the offensive glass. The Wildcats haven't looked good at all.

On defense, the Wildcats have had some intermittent success in forcing turnovers but the nights they don't force turnovers they have little left on which to rely. They are a mediocre defensive rebounding team which has struggled to keep their few decent opponents from making shots or getting to the foul line.

Kansas State will have to score either off Kansas turnovers or from the free throw line unless they have an atypically productive three-point shooting afternoon. Only six teams in the country get fewer points off of their three-point shooting. On the year, Kansas State takes 80% of their field goal attempts from two-point range. On the year, Kansas has held their opponents to 36.6% shooting on two-point attempts. I think we'll see another poor offense look even worse against the Jayhawks.

Kansas will convert Kansas State's turnovers into points. If the Jayhawks can control the defensive glass and create transition opportunities off of missed field goals as they did in Boulder, they should be able to win even if they have a similarly difficult time in the half-court offense.

In a matchup between these two offenses, the possibility of a close game exists. The Jayhawks, however, are both the home team and the team with a margin for error and thus should take control of the game at some point and win fairly handily.

Prediction: Kansas 72 Kansas State 58

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