The NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 is here, and nobody would have expected Kentucky’s path to the Final Four to be this… easy.
Yes, Cal said to not drink the poison. Yes, all of these teams have earned their way here. Kansas State, however, probably didn’t deserve to get in the tournament in the first place. They had five wins against NCAA Tournament teams, all whom lost in the first round (TCU twice, Texas twice, and Oklahoma once). Also, they lost to TCU and Oklahoma once each, and they lost to Arizona State, a play-in game loser.
The other tournament teams they lost to have all made the Sweet 16 (Kansas three times, West Virginia twice, and Texas Tech twice).
With all this being said, we still need to see how these Wildcats stand up to ours. Let’s take a look:
Kansas State Wildcats
Head Coach: Bruce Weber (437-233 All-Time, 124-79 at Kansas State; Made 2005 NCAA Tournament Championship Game with University of Illinois, falling to North Carolina 75-70)
Team Record: 24-11, 10-8 Big 12 Conference regular season record (4th in conference, lost in the second round to Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament)
Best Win: Defeated then #4 Oklahoma 87-69, at home
Worst Loss: Fell to West Virginia 51-89, at WVU Colesium
Forcing Turnovers – Taking the ball away from their opponent is Kansas State’s biggest strength. They rank 11th in the nation in steals, and 35th in the nation in forced turnovers.
Scoring Defense – Though I may not believe these Wildcats deserved to make it to the Round of 64, their defense does. K-State gives up just a tick under 67 points per-game, good for 46th in the nation.
Field Goal Conversion – Though poor from three-point range (209th in the nation at 34.3%), their two-point rate (54.3%) is good for 40th in the country. That boosts their overall percentage 47%, good for 54th in Division 1.
Scoring Offense – The worst part of their team has to be their scoring attack. Kansas State ranks an abysmal 242nd in the nation with just 71.6 points per-game. We’ll talk more about this later.
Rebounding – K-State has given up more than 100 rebounds than they have corralled this season. That includes grabbing less offensive and defensive rebounds than their opponent, respectively, this season. Again, more on this in just a second.
Three-Point Shooting – As a team, and individually, the team does not shoot three-pointers very well. As said earlier, they rank 209th in the nation in threes.
The biggest weakness facing Kansas State is the limited ability of All-Big 12 First-Team forward Dean Wade. Wade is the leading scorer, rebounder, and three-point shooter on this Wildcats team. These are Kansas State’s weaknesses even before his injury. Now, though he may play some spot minutes, they are even more vulnerable.
In three games without Wade, they have suffered. They lost to Kansas in the Big-12 Tournament in the first game without him. In the second, they shot an atypical 47% from downtown, yet got out-rebounded by 10 boards. They barely beat a 16-seed in UMBC (big props to Baltimore County for their history-making upset), and only shot 1-12 from three while out-rebounding them by only four boards.
This Kansas State team simply isn’t very good. Now, they are a Power Five conference basketball program fighting for an Elite Eight spot. And they will fight. Hard.
This Kentucky team, however, has focused in on their goal: a National Championship. I doubt Kansas State will be little more than a disturbance on their way to an Elite Eight appearance.