Checking In On… the Big 12 ConferencePosted by Brian Goodman on December 5th, 2011
The Week That Was
- After blitzing Northwestern State on Friday, Missouri’s offense is now the fourth-best in the entire country. Oddly enough even though they have a general lack of big men, they have the second-best two point offense in the entire country (58.2%), though shooting a lot of lay-ups will do that for you. They don’t depend on just one guy either: four Tigers are averaging double digits in scoring, led by Marcus Denmon’s 20.3 ppg. Senior Kim English is also the fourth-most efficient shooter in the country.
- From great offense to great defense. Kansas might have the worst offense of Bill Self’s tenure, but it might have the best defense. The 42 points the Jayhawks allowed to South Florida on Saturday were fewer than Kansas scored in the second half alone. They’ve gotten it done via a mixture of not letting opponents have many good looks (15th-best two-point defense) and not letting them have many second looks (22nd-best defensive rebounding).
- This week’s most overrated yet maybe underrated team is Baylor. They’re ranked seventh in the coaches poll, but just 31st in the KenPom ratings. The reasons why they are ranked so low there are obvious: barely scoring over a point per possession in their wins over San Diego State, South Carolina State, and UT-Arlington. It’s also why they were an underdog at Northwestern. But they also showed why they’re so easy to love: their unreal athleticism, which helped hand Northwestern its first loss via a 69-41 drubbing.
- Missouri (7-0): Missouri heads to the Jimmy V Classic this week to take on Villanova. Given the Wildcats’ inability to force turnovers and being not phenomenal at hanging onto it, we could get to see a lot of Tigers running up and down the floor. Both Marcus Denmon and Kim English have 22 or more threes made and English is shooting an incredible 57%. Still they seem to be the team’s only threats from beyond the arc something that bears attention.
- Kansas (5-2): Thomas Robinson is currently the second best defensive rebounder in the country, but hasn’t been shooting very efficiently, shooting just 46.3% from two. A match-up with Long Beach State, the team that upset Pittsburgh, on Tuesday plus a heavyweight match-up against Jared Sullinger and Ohio State on Saturday will give Robinson two big tests.
- Baylor (7-0): As I mentioned above, Baylor’s offense needs some work. Their turnover rate has gotten better but now their shooting is worse, down to under 50% from two. But as bad as their offense has been their defense has been perhaps better: they now have the best two-point defense in the country, allowing opponents to make just 33.2% of their two-point attempts.
- Texas (5-2): J’Covan Brown had 22 points against UCLA to rebound from scoring only six against North Texas. He’s now averaging just over 20 points per game and shooting a pretty remarkable 43% from three. Texas seems to have a bit of a toughness issue right now, allowing their opponents to get to the line a lot, a lot of them on silly fouls, and letting opponents rebound 40.4% of their misses.
- Kansas State (5-0): True road games are tough to win, and Kansas State got a much needed non-conference statement win over Virginia Tech on Sunday. They’re doing it with defense, with the third-best two-point defense in the country. It also appears they have gotten a lot better at making second half adjustments; perhaps Frank Martin is taking cues from Bill Snyder?
- Texas A&M (6-1): The Aggies’ woes on offense continue: they currently are 250th or worse in the following offensive categories: turnover rate, free throw rate, three point percentage, and free throw percentage. They shoot well from two, which is fortunate because they don’t take many threes, but if they don’t shoot many threes and don’t shoot them well, and can’t compensate for that by getting to the line a lot, I have a hard time envisioning a NCAA tournament run.
- Oklahoma State (4-2): With all due respect to Kansas’s opponents, the Cowboys might have the toughest slate of opponents this week, having to face Missouri State and Pitt with neither of them coming at home. They havegotten better on defense, but their leading scorer is still shooting only 47% from the field. LeBryan Nash is up to 39%, though!
- Oklahoma (5-1): Oklahoma doesn’t shoot many threes, but they maybe should give it a shot given that they are shooting just under 41% from beyond the arc. Their plan on offense seems to be pack it in, as they are shooting roughly 70% of their shots from the field from inside the arc, and are the sixth-best offensive rebounding team in the country.
- Iowa State (5-3): Iowa State lost twice last week, but I’m holding them steady at 9. They only lost by 10 at Michigan, no shame there, and while they did lose at home to Northern Iowa they scored almost a point per possession against the Panthers. They clearly are a lot better on offense, where they have the 29th-best eFG, than on defense, where they are 244th in eFG against, but as the season goes on I think their effort level on defense will increase.
- Texas Tech (4-3): If this were a football site, the main cliché would be that the Red Raiders don’t win the turnover battle. Texas Tech turns it over on 25.4% of their possessions, which is 310th nationally, and they are 309thin forcing turnovers. Their one bright spot seems to be Jordan Tolbert, who has a 58.8% eFG and is rebounding very well both offensively and defensively.
- Ohio State at Kansas – Saturday, December 10 – There is some question as to whether Jared Sullinger will play, but even if he doesn’t Kansas, will have its hands full. The Buckeyes are dominating inside the arc offensively and have gotten surprisingly good offensive play from Aaron Craft.
- Oklahoma State vs. Pitt – Saturday, December 10 – The Cowboys look like a great defensive test for Pitt, who are the third best offensive rebounding team in the country. If they can sufficiently keep the Panthers off the glass they can score the upset.
- Missouri vs. Villanova – Tuesday, December 6 – With a win, Missouri will get to 8-0 for the first time since 2006-07. Though given that Missouri finished 18-12 that year and missed the NCAA tournament that perhaps isn’t the best thing.
Spotlight on…Thomas Robinson
The Kansas junior just had his streak of double-doubles to start the season snapped at six, but there are both reasons for optimism and pessimism. He’s currently the second best defensive rebounder in the country, with a 33.7% defensive rebounding rate, but his offense needs to improve. He has just a 45.7% eFG and has used a ton of shots to put up his points. He has greatly improved from the line however, shooting 71.4% so far this season. Robinson’s stock as a top 5-10 pick in next summer’s NBA draft remains unchanged, and we can get a much better look at how far he has come as a college player this Saturday against Ohio State.