By the Numbers: Kansas at Iowa St.

Will there be any 'Hilton Magic' today for the Cyclones as the Kansas Jayhawks travel to Iowa State for KU's first conference road test? Webprince takes a statistical look at today's matchup.

Highlighted Statistical Rankings
Note: There are 336 Div-I teams
(Source: KenPom.com)

KANSAS

  • Offense #32 - Defense #2 - Tempo #104
  • Dominant offensive rebounding (#29)
  • Improved shooting now at #44 in eFG%
  • Ranks #13 in eFG% allowed, and #3 in 2FG% allowed
  • Ranked #16 in forcing TO's from opponents, including #15 in STL
  • Dominates the blocking game, #8 in avoiding BLK and #2 in making
  • Ranks #306 in % of FGA's that are 3FG

Individual Player Highlights:

IOWA STATE

  • Offense #146 - Defense #102 - Tempo #270
  • Usually wins the offensive rebounding game, ranks #40 in O-Reb% and #34 in minimizing opponent’s O-Reb%
  • Excellent at keeping opponents off the FT line (#17)
  • Struggles with 2FG% (#252) but so do their opponents (#47 in opp 2FG%)
  • Rarely have their 2FG’s blocked (#32)
  • Usually loses the steals game, ranking #300 in avoiding them on offense and only #320 in making steals
  • Opponents rarely take 3FG’s as pct of FGA (17th-lowest)

Individual Player Highlights:

Other Efficiency Notes:

  • On offense, KU relies very heavily on 2FG's (#20), while its opponents rely more on 3FG's (#58) at the expense of 2FG's (#267).
  • On offense, ISU relies somewhat more than the average amount on 3FG’s (#111), while its opponents rely an unusually high amount on 2FG's (#37).

Game Outlook

Most of the overall strength advantages in this game are in favor of Kansas, so if you’re playing the odds, you have to figure the Jayhawks are clear favorites.  The lone advantage for the Cyclones should be in KU’s likely inability to use the freethrow line very much.  Otherwise, based on overall season results, KU should excel in several areas:

  • KU should get plenty of steals and force turnovers in general
  • ISU should struggle shooting the ball, but in particular the 2-pt field goal, likely forcing them to compete from behind the arc
  • KU will likely not have trouble hanging on to the ball on offense
  • Chances are that ISU will also get limited opportunities at the freethrow line
  • ISU won’t block very many of KU’s shots

There are a couple of trends of note when examining this in the context of KU’s road performance and ISU’s home games:

  • KU averages 7.5 blocks per game overall but only 4.5 in its two road games, and keep in mind that ISU ranks #32 in avoiding blocks on 2-pt FGA’s
  • Although it generally dominates the boards overall (+8 rebounding margin), in its two road games, KU has been barely outrebounded
  • KU averages only 9.5 freethrow attempts on the road (21.5 overall)
  • ISU is more of a 2nd half team at home, while KU on the road comfortably wins the 1st half and has been outplayed in the 2nd half.  Actually, these trends hold true overall for both teams, not just home/road.

Although ISU plays at a very slow pace (#270 in country), this game could still be played at an average tempo.  If KU gets the turnovers and steals as expected, they will push the ball.  ISU will most likely be taking three-pointers, which means longer rebounds from which KU can initiate fast breaks.  If both teams take few freethrows as expected, players can get into a better rhythm.  A very slow tempo is generally to the advantage of the underdog, so even an average number of possessions here would play to KU’s advantage.

Iowa State has four players who take at least two 3FG’s per game.  Only Mike Taylor has been hot there this season (43.6%).  Kansas does have a way of bringing out the best in an opponent’s three-point shooting, so the Cyclones could still get hot and make this very interesting.  On offense, they can get hot from the perimeter but also keep the ball alive on missed shots, thereby compensating for an expected low shooting percentage.

On defense, they are actually quite effective in three of the “four factors” (eFG% allowed, offensive rebounding, and freethrow rate).  It’s their extremely low rate of forcing turnovers that keeps them from having an excellent defense.  At home, it is conceivable they could harass the Jayhawks and control the other areas of the game enough to keep KU’s offensive efficiency in check.  Again, not the likely result, but it is certainly a plausible recipe for an upset.


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