By the Numbers: Kansas at Nebraska

Bill Self's Kansas Jayhawks travel to Lincoln, Nebraska tonight to take on the Cornhuskers in a nationally televised game on ESPN. Phog.net's Webprince takes a look at how these two teams match up for the Big Monday showdown.

If you care about records, don’t compare Kansas and Nebraska’s overall records.  KU is 3-2 on the road, while NU is 9-1 at home.  This Big Monday game is far from an easy victory for the Jayhawks.  In this piece, I’ll take you inside the numbers for each team’s roster.  Finally, I’ve put together a table of the potential advantages in the game based on the strengths and weaknesses for each team and how they line up.

Player Analysis:
(largely based on ratings above)

If Bill Self is right about his big players not doing the job or being tough, then Monday night will be a rude awakening for the Jayhawk frontcourt.  Nebraska is led by one of the premier centers in the conference, 6-11 junior Aleks Maric.  Despite taking nearly a third of his team's shots, Maric shoots a sizzling 64 eFG% and a healthy 71% from the FT line.  And oh yeah, he is the 6th-rated defensive rebounder in the country, great at getting to the FT line and blocks opponents' shots on about 6% of possessions.  Maric has the highest efficiency rating of any player from both teams coming into this game according to my player ratings system.  Considering KU's impressive blocking ability inside, it will be very interesting to see how effective Maric will be.

The player with the next-highest amount of impact for NU this season is Charles Richardson Jr., the 5-9 senior.  He plays far and away the most minutes/gm on the team (35) and shoots a healthy 54 eFG%, including 37% from 3FG.  Richardson also does a fantastic job of distributing the ball, with an assist on just under one-third of possessions.  He's not as efficient as some other Husker players though, as he does get a significantly higher amount of playing time.

Marcus Perry and Jim Ledsome have performed quite efficiently this season.  The 6-2 senior, Perry, is a three-point bomber who shoots around 45% from deep and 66 eFG% overall, plus he's gone 8-8 from the FT line.  Ledsome is a 6-9 sophomore frontcourt player who shoots about 59 eFG%, turns it over a bit too often, but in just 10 minutes/gm gets about 2.5 REB and 0.5 BLK.

Ryan Anderson and Jamel White contribute more than Ledsome but not quite as efficiently.  Both score about 10 pts/gm while playing about 25 min/gm.  Both guards are shooting a decent percentage, although Anderson does better (59 vs 52 eFG%).  Anderson also adds a strong defensive rebounding capability, while White chips in with high AST and low TO rates.

Velander, Strowbridge, and Henry have had largely neutral net effects on the team so far.  Kris Douse hasn't played since mid-December and struggled when he did.

On the Jayhawks' side, it's still Julian Wright whose numbers defy gravity.  He leads the team in total impact and efficiency ratings with a healthy scoring average (11.1), nearly 8 REB, 1.8 STL, 1.6 BLK, and 54 eFG%.  His 2.0 AST don't make up for this 2.5 TO's per game, and he tends to go for the flashy play even when it costs KU a chance at making the score (case in point a botched breakaway dunk in the last game against Colorado).  Still, it's very difficult to argue that his contributions don't matter ... there are far too many of them to ignore.

Mario Chalmers comes in a close second in overall impact this season, while his efficiency is a couple of notches lower than Wright's.  Chalmers is a solid shooter from deep (38%) and effectively penetrates the lane.  His AST numbers are climbing (3.4) and steals stay sky-high (2.9).

Brandon Rush is one of the team's most solid contributors, but he just doesn't do it as efficiently as most of the team.  He has improved his overall shooting for the season (just over 50 eFG%) and can take over games every now and then.  Despite usually being a key defender, a couple of recent lax games on defense have let the opponent's star shooter light KU up, but neither time resulted in a KU loss (Missouri, Colorado).  If Rush can stay away from the occasional 4-of-15 type shooting nights, he will continue to keep KU in contention the rest of the way.

Darnell Jackson is playing with a bad back, but that hasn't stopped him from being an efficient player.  In fact, during his recent stretch of low playing time, his efficiency rating has climbed.  It's mostly because he's one of the nation's better rebounders on both sides of the ball, with 4.7 REB in only about 15 minutes per game.  Jackson also shoots nearly 56 eFG% and 71% from the line.

Sherron Collins just gets better and better.  An incredible 63 eFG% shooting guard (team-high 46% from 3FG), Collins has a knack for finding ways to score and giving the team a boost.  As his defense continues to improve, he will be a threat to take over any game.  He's slowly gaining on starter Russell Robinson who is not known as much for his offense but is a great defender.  Lately, Robinson has upped his shooting numbers, especially in conference play.  KU is benefiting from the healthy competition (virtual, as neither would admit they are competing with one another) between these talented perimeter players.  If Self can manage to add to Collins' minutes without making Robinson lose confidence, the team will benefit greatly in March.

Finally, Sasha Kaun and Darrell Arthur share most of the minutes at the center position.  Arthur started the season strong and has been in an extended freefall, while Kaun had an early-season injury but has recovered nicely until a couple of games ago.  Lately, both players don't rebound or play tough inside nearly as much as they can and should.  Kaun has been shooting somewhat effectively, but he must be a bigger force on the boards if KU’s defense is to compensate for its offensive lapses.  Arthur has had several games with improved shooting, but his rebounding and blocks have not come around at all lately.  Arthur still averages double figures for the season but has scored in double figures in only one of his last six games.  The last time he had more than 6 rebounds in a game was December 2.  Despite averaging 1.8 BLK on the season, he hasn't had more than two blocks in a game in 2007.  Meanwhile, Kaun has 4 or fewer rebounds in each of his last three games and hasn't scored in double figures in his last four.  The fact that he hasn't had more than two fouls in any of his last four games may be an indication that he's lacking aggressiveness.

Statistical Strengths and Weaknesses Analysis

Explanation of Terms

NOTE: From top to bottom, the statistics are sorted such that, at the top are the greatest advantages to the team on the left, and at the bottom are the greatest advantages for the team on the right. 

** Denotes that team with advantage also ranks in Top 50 in that category

 

Clear Advantage for Kansas

No Clear Advantage

Clear Advantage for Nebraska

Nebraska % own 2FGA's blocked**

 

 

Nebraska OREB

 

 

Kansas 3pt FG%**

 

 

Kansas eFG%**

 

 

 

Kansas OREB

 

Nebraska TO rate**

 

 

Kansas % own 2FGA's blocked**

 

 

 

Nebraska % Poss STL by Opp

 

Kansas PTS/Poss**

 

 

Kansas 2pt FG%**

 

 

 

Nebraska PTS/Poss

 

 

Nebraska FT Rate

 

 

Nebraska FT%

 

 

Nebraska 2pt FG%

 

 

Nebraska eFG%

 

 

Kansas FT%

 

 

Kansas % Poss STL by Opp

 

 

Nebraska 3pt FG%

 

 

Kansas FT Rate

 

 

 

Kansas TO rate**

 

Nebraska will take above avg % of its FG's from 3-pt

Kansas plays faster tempo than Nebraska


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