Monday, January 23, 2017

The Curious Case of Kansas State

I have not seen enough to feel comfortable stating Kansas State was one of the 8 best teams in the Big 12.  That was my line at the last poll, and nothing had changed going into the Bracket published last week.  Since then, they dropped a very difficult West Virginia team to get that elusive Top 50 win.

All the numbers point to a single digit seed, but the results to me still do not add up.  Don’t get me wrong, this has been a great coaching job by Bruce Weber to even be having this discussion.  The discouraging part was the 346th ranked non-conference schedule.  Sure, it is not necessarily the Wildcats’ fault several of their opponents cratered (BC, WAZZU, UW-GB), but it puts them at the bottom of the pecking order in their own conference, when comparing resumes with IAST, OKST, TTU, OU, and TCU.  Their only chance at a Top 100 win was MD, and they just missed.  They needed the WVU game to prove they were not a bottom half team getting fat on a stacked league.

Right now, I see a lot to like about the Wildcats.  They shoot lights out, they protect the ball, and they laid haymaker after haymaker on the Jayhawks at the Phog before succumbing to a great team on the road.  They have experience and really make the opponent work for a look.  They do not give away cheap points.

What I don’t like is that they are a six-man rotation.  This gives them no margin of error with injuries or foul trouble on the road.  It makes it difficult to keep your best guys fresh to win a close game in the final minute (which has lead to a couple damning win probability graphs).  Their foul shooting fails to meet expectations.  The upcoming Tennessee game only marginally helps them in that it is on the road; the Vols are only sliding downward the rest of the year.

Alas, they are a better team than VCU, and if I had to do the bracket again right now, that would be an easy correction.  They probably have a higher ceiling than TCU as well, and will likely sneak into the Thursday field.  But then again, if they up and vanish completely, I won't be shocked.

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