Tag Archives: Utah State basketball

Checking In: Halftime Analysis

17 Mar

Before this game began, I outlined a few key areas. At halftime the Wildcats lead the Aggies 33-22. Let’s see how they are doing in those different aspects.

1) “The Aggies are going to take care of the ball, so the Wildcats had better do likewise. According to statistics of ESPN.com, K-State averages 15 turnovers per game, while Utah State gives the ball away around 12 times each contest.”

Utah State has 8 turnovers so far; K-State has 3.

2) K-State’s defense will need to be as effective as it has been all season, or more so. As part of the Aggies’ strategy is limiting its mistakes on offense, the Wildcats need to hassle them, frazzle them, and generally make them make mistakes.

Again, the turnover numbers. Utah State is shooting 40.9 percent from the floor, which is not awful, by any stretch of the imagination, but it shows that the team is being contained, to an extent.

3) While mentioning the necessity of making free throws is always good for a few rolling eyes, I just think it’s that important. The vast majority of these games will be decided by one or two shots, so even going 15-for-20 from the charity stripe could cost a team a win.

I said this already in a blog for the Kansas State Collegian, but it’s so great that I’ll say it again. The Wildcats made 11 of 11 attempts from the free throw line, and it just so happens that they lead by 11 points at the half …

4) In general, K-State has to make shots. This can’t be one of those 30-percent-from-the-floor nights. If that happens, there is a large possibly the Wildcats’ season will be over.

K-State is only shooting 35 percent from the floor, and 22 percent from beyond the arc, but its performance at the charity stripe is helping out quite a bit. Still, the players should pick it up some in the second half.

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Now comes the hard part

14 Mar

I can’t remember whether I first heard this saying from a player, coach, friend of a friend or character in a movie. Regardless, I feel like it’s true, especially the older I get, and especially for college basketball teams at this time of year.

“The only easy day was yesterday.”

The K-State men’s basketball team received a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament yesterday. Unlike college football’s bowl system, where teams can wait up to a month for their one-game postseason, March Madness calls for an immediate turnaround. Teams playing in the first round have only Sunday night and Monday to prepare for their first matchup. That’s part of what makes it all so much fun.

K-State has until Thursday evening to get ready for the No. 12 seed Utah State Aggies. I don’t know about you, but as one who has filled out a bracket for many years, I always liked the 5 vs. 12 matchups as upset picks. Then again, upsets are not so upsetting these days. As K-State head coach Frank Martin said, these games are difficult because every single team is aware that its basketball season is over if it doesn’t win. That makes people focus in more, and that extra desire gets applied to each possession, Martin explained. Simply put, there are no easy games.

Wildcat senior guard Jacob Pullen said that while there are good seeds and bad seeds, the outcome of a game really boils down to the matchup. His example was this: if a No. 1 seed gets paired with a No. 16 seed who has an incredible forward, and the No. 1 seed doesn’t have depth in the frontcourt, that is a difficult arrangement for the No. 1 seed.

Obviously, that doesn’t mean the No. 16 seed will win, but that kind of scenario could make it difficult for the favored team. Now apply that kind of logic to your 8 v. 9 matchup, your 5 v. 12 matchup, and all those other games where the teams have a more even talent level thanks to recruiting power, and things can get very interesting (read: entertaining) very quickly.

K-State’s recent encounters with Colorado are a perfect example of the power of matchups. As Martin and various Colorado players mentioned after the game, the Wildcats like to deny entry passes to the post on defense, but the Buffaloes have several players who can make plays off the dribble and get the ball to the rim that way. This year, Colorado had K-State’s number, and how the teams matched up was the reason why.

Looking at this first game, against Utah State, the first aspect I want to look at is strength of schedule. The Aggies have lost only 3 games this season, but they have only played two ranked teams: then-No. 14 Georgetown, at the beginning of the year, to whom they lost 68-51, and then-No. 23 Saint Mary’s,about a month ago, whom they beat 75-65.

The Wildcats, on the other hand, have played 10 games against ranked teams. You heard that correctly: a third of K-State’s opponents were ranked in the top 25. The Wildcats are 5-5 against ranked teams, but their losses came against Duke (a No. 1 seed in the NCAA  tournament), Florida (a No. 2 seed), Missouri (a No. 11 seed), Texas A&M (a No. 7 seed) and Kansas (a No. 1 seed) – and all of those were played away from Bramlage Coliseum.

Without going into a detailed scouting report (we’ll save that for another day, another blog), I would venture that – if nothing else – the Wildcats certainly have better preparation than Utah State heading into this postseason. It wouldn’t be a huge leap to assume that, despite 1o losses, that strength of schedule is why K-State got such a high seed in the first place.