This is a new article for the site, but I figured this would be the best time to roll it out. By looking at KenPom’s individual team pages for the year and assessing individual games, it is easy to correlate sectors of the game to how successful a team is.
For Kansas State it is easy to pinpoint certain areas of the game that are most prevalent in their wins or losses. All three happen to be on the defensive side of the ball in their case.
As a Wake fan this is a good way to get a grasp of how Kansas State wins games, and what they need to do to be successful.
Tomorrow I will assess three benchmarks Wake Forest needs to hit if they want to win as well.
Three Things Kansas State Must Do to Win Tomorrow Night
1. Hold Wake Forest under a 100 offensive rating.
This is pretty straightforward. Kansas State is a defensive-minded team, and a 100 offensive rating corresponds pretty directly to one point per possession for an opposing team. The Wildcats have limited teams to below a 100 offensive rating 17/33 games this year (52% of the time). They are 15-2 in those games. In the games where a team averaged over a 100 rating, Kansas State falls to 5-11.
Wake Forest has been held under a 100 offensive rating just 6 times this year, and only once in 2017 (Pittsburgh on February 22nd). The Deacs are 1-5 in those games, and are 18-8 in games where they are over 100. As you would expect, this is not a benchmark for Wake Forest, if they are under 100 there are serious problems because of their reliance on outscoring teams instead of getting stops on the defensive end.
2. Force a turnover on at least 20%+ of Wake Forest’s possessions.
Once again this one makes a lot of sense given the identity of Kansas State as a defensive-minded team. The Wildcats rank 16th in the nation in steal percentage, and 14th at turnover percentage (22.4%). When Kansas State forces turnovers on 20% of their opponent’s possessions they are 16-4 on the year. When they fall short of that number they are 4-9.
The Wildcats are the best team at forcing turnovers that Wake Forest has faced this year, with Virginia coming in second place at 21%.
On the flip side, Wake Forest protects the ball pretty well, so they have only turned the ball over 20%+ 8 times on the year. Wake went 4-4 in these games, but it’s worth noting that three of these games were against UTEP, Radford, and UNC-G. Protecting the ball is important for Wake, but it is far more important to Kansas State to force turnovers than it is for Wake to prevent them.
3. Limit Wake Forest to under a 45% field goal percentage on 2-Pt attempts.
Considering how bad Kansas State is at allowing 3-Pt shots to go in (38.3% allowed, the same as LSU, where Wake Forest scored 110 points), defending inside the arc is of vital importance. 18 times the Wildcats have held an opponent to under 45% shooting from 2-point range. They are 16-2 in those games, while they are just 4-11 when opponent’s exceed that mark.
Again, Wake Forest was only held under 45% 6 times this season, which makes a lot of sense thanks to John Collins and his 63% FG shooting. Wake is 2-4 when they shoot under 45% from 2s, with the two wins coming against Boston College and Pittsburgh.
Regardless of the actual numbers from above, this paints a good picture of who Kansas State is. They are a defensive-minded team that forces turnovers and limits inside shooting. When they do that they usually win, if they don’t do it they usually lose.
While there were certain offensive metrics that were somewhat indicative of whether or not Kansas State won a game or not, most of those were pretty clear for any other team. Especially irrelevant to the outcome of the game was how Kansas State offensively rebounds the ball well, or gets to the free throw line. Those appear to have little to no correlation at all with whether or not they won or lost a game.
As you watch the game tomorrow night keep these three things in mind. If Collins is having his way in the paint and Bryant Crawford is protecting the ball then there is a pretty good chance Wake Forest is in good shape to get a win.
I’ll get one of these out for Wake Forest tomorrow, which I am guessing will show the Deacs to be extremely reliant on doing well offensively in order to win games, since their defense is so bad.