Ten Questions To Consider: Weekend Adversity Ahead?

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on January 19th, 2018

As conference play continues this weekend, teams across the country are having to face different types of adversity. Here are 10 questions for games to be played over the next few days:

Michigan State Will Try to Right the Ship This Weekend (USA Today Images)

  1. Are turnovers killing Michigan State? Michigan State has lost two of its last three games and needed overtime to escape at home with a win against Rutgers. The Spartans were -18 in turnovers in those three games. They must limit their giveaways against an Indiana team that ranks second in the Big Ten in forced turnover rate during conference play.
  2. Will Wichita State bounce back from its first conference loss? In Wichita State’s first AAC loss of the season, the Shockers allowed SMU to shoot 76 percent on two-point attempts and 50 percent on three-point attempts. It was the fifth time this season in which Wichita State has allowed an opponent to score more than 1.1 points per possession — something that happened only four times last year. For Wichita State to win the American in its first year in the league, it will need to become more consistent defensively.
  3. Will Kentucky be able to follow up another loss with a win? After each of its previous three losses, Kentucky has returned home and won its next game. After falling Tuesday to South Carolina, Kentucky returns home to play Florida. Kentucky’s current SEC defensive efficiency of 104 points per 100 possessions is the worst of any group of Wildcats since Tubby Smith’s 2005-06 team. Their defensive struggles come from a season long inability to force turnovers, an area where Kentucky currently ranks outside of the top 200.
  4. How troubling is West Virginia’s offense? Since Big 12 play began, West Virginia’s offense has undergone a steady decline. The Mountaineers currently own the second worst offensive efficiency, effective field-goal percentage, and turnover rate in the conference. The Mountaineers will host a Texas team that held Texas Tech to just 58 points in its last game.
  5. Will NC State grab another home win over a ranked opponent? NC State is undefeated at home on the season, including a pair of nice ACC wins over Duke and Clemson. In those two victories, the Wolfpack committed a combined 14 turnovers, one fewer than it committed in its recent loss at Virginia. They will be up against a Miami defense that ranks second in conference play in defensive turnover rate.
  6. Is Kansas staring at a trap game? After its comeback win at West Virginia on Monday night and with Oklahoma to follow, Saturday screams “trap” game for Kansas. While Baylor sits at a disappointing 2-4 in conference play, the Bears have given TCU and West Virginia all they could handle. Last season, Baylor led at Kansas deep into the second half before losing by five. Kansas won that game at the free throw line, however, where they were a +14 in makes and a +21 on attempts
  7. Will SMU continue riding high after beating Wichita State? SMU returns home for a game against a Tulane team that already has a win over the Mustangs this season. In that game, SMU shot 20-of-46 (43%) on its two-point attempts, its third worst shooting night of the season.
  8. Should Duke be concerned with Grayson Allen’s play? While Duke has plenty of offensive firepower scattered among its talented corps of freshman, Grayson Allen is shooting a career worse 19.5 percent on ACC three-point attempts and has seen his free-throw rate drop to 18.9 percent in those games – down from 46.4 percent last season. Increased production from Allen would go a long way in making Duke’s defensive issues a little less concerning.
  9. How many turnovers are too many for Trae Young? Trae Young’s possession usage of 40.9 percent is the highest mark of any player in KenPom’s player database of the past 15 years. After a non-conference season in which Young had 114 assists to just 42 turnovers, his miscues have climbed dramatically during league play. In Big 12 games, Young has 51 assists and 46 turnovers, including 21 turnovers in his past two games.
  10. How big of a problem is Arizona State’s defense? Since expanding to 12 teams, no Pac-12 team has finished conference play at .500 or better with a conference defensive efficiency ranking of 10th or worse. Arizona State, now 2-4 in conference play, is currently ranked 10th in that metric. Saturday’s game against Cal’s abysmal offense is a great opportunity for the Sun Devils to show some signs of life defensively.
Matthew Eisenberg (140 Posts)

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