Kansas State’s Real Work Begins This Weekend

Posted by Drew Andrews on December 29th, 2016

Kansas State will begin conference play against a reeling Texas team on Friday night in Manhattan, and it’s about time. Head coach Bruce Weber should be commended for getting to the start of Big 12 play with only a one-point loss to Maryland on the Wildcats’ resume, but his team has played the fifth-worst schedule of 351 Division I college basketball teams, according to KenPom. The offenses that Kansas State has faced ranks second-worst in the nation. With the Longhorns coming to Bramlage Coliseum as the only Big 12 offense ranked outside of the top 75 nationally, it is safe to say that the Wildcats’ schedule is about to get much more difficult.

Bruce Weber Doesn't Yet Know What He's Got This Season (USA Today Images)

Bruce Weber Doesn’t Yet Know What He’s Got This Season (USA Today Images)

What has worked for the Wildcats this season is that they have been equally effective on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. Ranked 41st and 29th, respectively, in offensive and defensive efficiency, Weber’s team has shot very well from three-point range (38.8% 3FG) and smothered teams inside the arc (38.9% 2FG defense). Given the weak schedule, it’s difficult to know if these statistics are sustainable, but last year’s team by contrast was one of the worst in the country from beyond the arc (30.0% 3FG). The addition of freshman wing Xavier Sneed (38.8% 3FG) and the maturation of sophomores like Kamau Stokes (40.7% 3FG) and Dean Wade (40.7% 3FG) has led to a more balanced offense. No Wildcat shot better than 34 percent from three-point range a season ago; this season, four players have double-figure makes and are shooting above that mark.

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Not Every Big 12 Team Has Elevated Itself in Non-Conference Play

Posted by Drew Andrews on December 9th, 2016

The Big 12 has gotten off to a very good start in non-conference play, with several teams already notching important wins for Selection Sunday and the league sitting in the top spot in Ken Pomeroy’s conference ratings and second in the RPI. West Virginia beat Virginia in Charlottesville; Kansas knocked off Duke in the Champions Classic; and Baylor owns six top 100 wins including those over Louisville, Xavier and Oregon. As well as those three teams have represented the conference nationally, another trio of Big 12 schools — Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Texas Tech — are still looking for a signature win.

Oklahoma State's Best Win Came Against a Struggling Georgetown Program (USA Today Images)

Oklahoma State’s Best Win Came Against a Struggling Georgetown Program (USA Today Images)

Oklahoma State has started the season on a scoring tear. As expected, Jawun Evans leads the team in usage but he hasn’t had to go it alone. Phil Forte and Jeffrey Carroll are both top 100 offensive players nationally who can help Evans carry the scoring load. The concern for when the Cowboys get to conference play will be about how an already shaky defense can hold up against stronger competition. North Carolina scored 107 points in a blowout win in Maui, and, while the Cowboys rank fourth nationally in steal rate, that gambling style of defense has led to a surplus of open looks from three-point range (opponents are making 39.2 percent of their threes against the Pokes). A talent advantage has mostly masked these deficiencies to this point, but Big 12 play is likely to expose Oklahoma State if Brad Underwood doesn’t improve his defense.

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Big 12 M5: 12.11.2014 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 12th, 2014



  1. Thursday was a long day for Bryce Dejean-Jones and Iowa State. It began early in the morning when the UNLV transfer was arrested at his apartment on three minor drug-related charges. Later on, one of the charges was dismissed, but with the other charges still outstanding, Fred Hoiberg decided the best course of action was to hold Dejean-Jones out of tonight’s game against in-state rival Iowa. For all of Hoiberg’s work with transfers over the years, there’s a reason why Iowa State has been referred to as college hoops’ Island Of Misfit Toys. While Dejean-Jones’ indiscretions aren’t very egregious in the grand scheme of things, they do underscore some of the concerns that came with his departure from Dave Rice’s program. We’ll have more on the impact his suspension will have on Iowa State’s chances of scoring a big road win later today.
  2. Jesse Newell of The Topeka Capital-Journal has an interesting analysis of the impact of luck in close games played by Kansas through the years (upon closer examination, we should probably have a disclaimer advising Iowa State fans to skip today’s edition of the M5…). Newell’s study concludes that there isn’t a strong correlation between winning close games during the regular season and advancing deep into the NCAA Tournament, which isn’t very surprising, but it’s always good to have the data fleshed out when it comes to explaining the deciding factors in close games.
  3. Former Baylor standout Brady Heslip‘s name has resurfaced as something of an NBDL freak. Now with the Reno Bighorns, the Canadian sniper is regularly given at least 15 three-point attempts per game, and is connecting on a staggering 54.7 percent of those tries. Heslip spoke with Dan Patrick and touched on his time with the Bears. Recalling that part of his junior year was spent trying to learn the nuances of being a distributor, Heslip lamented that he could have been an even better shooter had he been given the freedom he’s currently enjoying in the NBDL. If called up to the Sacramento Kings, Heslip would definitely be one of the Big 12’s least likely pros, so we’ll be pulling for him.
  4. Speaking of Big 12 snipers, Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte talked about his expanding role with the Cowboys and the importance of tomorrow’s road against Memphis. The computers like the Cowboys to bounce back some after their tumultuous 2013-14 campaign, but they don’t have any especially impressive wins to date and took a shellacking last weekend at South Carolina. While Iowa State-Iowa and Kansas-Utah are getting most of the attention (deservedly so) this weekend, the most important game on the calendar for any one team may be tomorrow’s meeting between Travis Ford and Josh Pastner.
  5. We haven’t talked much about Texas Tech, but the good fortune up and down the Big 12 has applied to them as well. Wednesday, the Red Raiders took down Fresno State, 73-56, using a big second half and 17 points from Devauntagh Williams to move to 6-1 on the year. Granted, all of Tech’s wins have come against cupcakes, but they did take an admittedly disappointing LSU team to overtime on the road a few weeks ago before dropping that tilt to to the Tigers. Tubby Smith‘s team should be able to inflate its schedule with five mostly easy games before conference play revs up, but their bad offense isn’t likely to get it done come Big 12 play. Enjoy it while you can, Red Raiders fans.
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Is Baylor Overrated? Of Course!

Posted by Bennet Hayes on January 16th, 2014

The Baylor Bears are currently the 12th best team in the land (says the Associated Press), and are considered by many to be both a Big 12 title contender and Final Four threat. The Bears are deep and talented (as usual), and Kenny Chery has been remarkable enough to make Bears fan already forget their preseason fears of a life without Pierre Jackson. But after Wednesday night’s discouraging no-show of an 82-72 loss to Texas Tech – a game in which Baylor trailed by 21 at halftime – I think it’s high time we reassess Scott Drew’s team. They are a talented bunch, no doubt; but are the Bears as good as we first thought?

Cory Jefferson And The Defensively Challenged Bears Would Be Well-Suited To Replicate Their Offensive Efficiency On The Other End Of The Floor

Cory Jefferson And The Defensively Challenged Bears Would Be Well-Suited To Replicate Their Offensive Efficiency On The Other End Of The Floor

Baylor had already risen all the way to seventh in the polls this season, but another decisive Big 12 road loss (at Iowa State) knocked them down to their current spot. The Bears followed the standard prescription for reaching the upper realms of the poll: Enter the season ranked, possess a solid reputation of recent success, and then it doesn’t really matter who you beat — just win a bunch of games. Twelve of 13 did the trick for Scott Drew’s team, and that one loss was commendable – a seven-point defeat to second ranked Syracuse in Maui. But if we reevaluate Baylor’s current list of victories, the rise in profile that accompanied its jaunt up the polls may feel a bit hasty. Wins over Kentucky and Colorado are nice, but Arkansas and Washington can also claim that. Furthermore, make sure to note that those two games – both played in Dallas/Fort Worth — should be considered far friendlier for Baylor than the attached “neutral site” title would suggest – especially as the Bears struggle on the road here early in conference play.

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Big 12 M5: 03.20.13 Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on March 20th, 2013


  1. If you’re still tinkering with your bracket and unsure of which upsets to pick or which #2 or #3 seed to beat a #1, take a look at Nate Silver‘s article here. He gives each team’s probability of advancing to each round. For the most part, higher seeds are given better odds to advance, but not in every case. The #3 seed in the South Region, Florida, has the best odds in that region to make the Final Four at 37.1%. #4 seed Michigan (12.8%) has a better shot to reach Atlanta than #2 seed Georgetown (6.9%). Not surprisingly, Indiana and Louisville are the Tournament’s biggest favorites. Both teams have better than 50% chances to reach the Final Four.
  2. Seth Davis thinks the Kansas Jayhawks have the easiest path to the Final Four of any of the #1 seeds. It’s also nice to see Davis agree with me that while #5 seed VCU is the sexy pick to beat Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen, they won’t be able to knock off #4 seed Michigan in the Round of 32. The Rams thrive on turning teams over and getting easy buckets. Kansas turns the ball over on 19% of its possessions, a prime candidate for a VCU upset; but Michigan leads the nation with just a little over a 14% turnover rate. VCU won’t be able to turn Michigan over enough times to maintain a lead, and Wolverines guard Trey Burke will lead his team to the Sweet Sixteen.
  3. Myron Medcalf of ESPN.com talks about teams and players facing pressure in the NCAA Tournament, and he thinks Oklahoma State freshman guard Marcus Smart has plenty of pressure on him (4 out of 5) this weekend and possibly beyond. Smart is the reason the Cowboys earned a #5 seed and will be the driver if they advance to the second weekend. But as Medcalf points out, a bad or even average game from Smart against #12 seed Oregon could have Oklahoma State heading home after one game. Medcalf says Kansas’ Ben McLemore (3 out of 5 on his scale) also faces considerable pressure in this Tournament, and rightly so. Not as much as Smart, he thinks, but it’s hard to see the Jayhawks reaching the Final Four if McLemore doesn’t play up to his high-lottery pick potential.
  4. The NCAA Tournament is so unpredictable that I’m beginning to think all four #1 seeds will advance to the Final Four this year just because people keep saying that this the year that all hell breaks loose on everyone’s brackets, or as Reid Forgrave argues here, that a #16 seed finally beats a #1 seed. He’s right that there have been numerous head-scratching losses this year, like Kansas losing to TCU and Michigan losing to Penn State. A #1 seed could lose this year, but not because there have been a lot of upsets already. He’s right because the odds are that it’s going to happen sooner or later. Teams that are #16 seeds are 0-112 all-time against #1 seeds, and typically, each #1 seed has between a 98% and 99.5% chance of winning its first game. With those odds, a #16 seed should have already won a game. So keep preaching, Mr. Forgrave. It’s bound to happen eventually and you’ll look like a genius. But it won’t be because people think a season is upside down and parity is filling the land. It will happen because the math tells us it’s bound to happen one of these years.
  5. Roy Williams was “stunned” when he realized that his Tar Heels were an #8 seed in the NCAA Tournament this year and potentially paired with Kansas in the Round of 32. Asked if he believes the Selection Committee when they say they don’t go out of their way to set up prospective match-ups (this year could be the third time Williams faces Kansas since leaving Lawrence in 2003), he said: “I am not much of a buyer right now, guys.” He said he knew the committee didn’t put North Carolina in Kansas’ pod to fill the Sprint Center in Kansas City, but added, “It was a confusing (selection) show and I’m still confused and I’m a fairly intelligent person.” Williams is right that North Carolina probably should have been a better seed and potentially facing Kansas again is a little strange, but the committee has the better argument should they need it. If they were in the business of setting up future games, Kansas and Missouri would be matched up in Kansas City, not Kansas and North Carolina.
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Big 12 NCAA Resumes: Oklahoma Sooners

Posted by KoryCarpenter on March 1st, 2013

Over the next few weeks, we’ll break down where each Big 12 bubble team stands in terms of its current NCAA Tournament resume. This time: the Oklahoma Sooners, who are trying to get back to the Dance for the first time since Blake Griffin was around campus. 

Oklahoma has seen the kind of improvement fans probably hoped for when Lon Kruger was hired prior to last season. The Sooners were 15-16 (5-13 Big 12) and finished eighth in the conference. A year later, they are a win away from the school’s first 20-win season since 2008-09 and are in a good spot heading into Selection Sunday. The Sooners are led by senior forward Romero Osby, who leads the team with 15 PPG on an efficient 52.1%. They pass nearly every test for a team to make the Tournament, so they should be fine as long as they avoid any bad losses the next two weeks.

  • Current Record: 18-9, 9-6 in the Big 12
  • RPI: 27
  • Record vs RPI top 50: 2-5
  • Record vs RPI top 100: 7-8
  • SOS: 9
Lon Kruger Has The Sooners I a Good Spot As Selection Sunday Draws Near.

Lon Kruger Has The Sooners In A Good Spot With Selection Sunday Around The Corner.

Case For An At-Large Bid: They have a top 30 RPI and and a top 10 Strength of Schedule. Their seven wins against the RPI top 100 are more than bubble teams like Iowa State, Baylor, Kentucky, Ole Miss, and North Carolina. They are 3-1 in neutral site games and have beaten both Kansas and Oklahoma State. They were also bailed out after losing to Stephen F. Austin early in the season. The Lumberjacks are #77 in the RPI, keeping Oklahoma’s record against RPI teams 100+ at 11-1 instead of 10-2, which could be a big deal with the selection committee. Bad losses could hurt a team just as much as good wins help, so a thank you card might be in order for the Lumberjacks. But with an impressive strength of schedule and barring a loss to West Virginia or TCU to end the season, the Sooners should have nothing to worry about.

Case Against An At-Large Bid: Their 2-5 record against the top 50 isn’t great, and 11 of their 18 wins came against teams outside the RPI top 100. The loss on Wednesday to Texas (RPI #125) won’t help their cause, either. And if they lose at home on Saturday to fellow bubble team Iowa State, it would drop their top 100 record to 7-9 with no chances to improve it in the regular season.

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Close Not Good Enough Anymore For Oklahoma State

Posted by KoryCarpenter on January 5th, 2013

The race for the presumable number two spot behind Kansas in the Big 12 got a little more interesting on Saturday. In an intriguing league opener between two ranked teams, Kansas State took care of business at home with a 73-67 win over Oklahoma State in Manhattan. It helps establishes the Wildcats as a Big 12 frontrunner, but more importantly, it leaves Travis Ford with a few more questions than he may have originally anticipated. At this point, he knows he has a dangerous squad. Watch these Cowboys for a only a few minutes, and you’ll see it’s a completely different team than a year ago. Freshman Marcus Smart has a presence to him at the point guard spot, Le’Bryan Nash has matured, and, oh, Markel Brown can still dunk. He threw down a couple of nasty party-starters in the first half on Saturday. It seems as though everybody on the floor has those kinds of hops. As impressive and athletic as Oklahoma State looks at times, however, the results haven’t been there lately. The Cowboys’ win over then-No. 6 North Carolina State in November looks more like two years ago than two months now. First, there was the discouraging loss to Virginia Tech. Then, they failed to capitalize when they had Gonzaga on the ropes at Gallagher-Iba Arena on New Year’s Eve.

Rodney McGruder Moves Into a Starring Role at K-State This Season

Rodney McGruder’s Big Game Help Improve Kansas State to 9-2

And now this. When it won the Puerto Rico Tip-off, Oklahoma State looked like it could potentially grow into Kansas’ fiercest competitor at season’s end. Losing a game at Bramlage, one of the more difficult places to play in the league, doesn’t kill those chances. It’s just that Ford must now figure out how to take his team to the next level– from “better-than-last-year” to “immediate contender.” Oklahoma State’s lack of frontcourt size became evident right away in this physical battle, and it didn’t help that freshman forward Kamari Murphy found himself in early foul trouble. The Cowboys also had no answer for Kansas State star Rodney McGruder, who finished with 28 points and five rebounds. He was the best player on the floor on Saturday, and that’s no surprise. When the Wildcats needed to make a play in the final minutes, they did. That was the difference between Oklahoma State and Kansas State on this particular afternoon. Again, the loss doesn’t leave the Cowboys in a precarious position, but the excitement of that Puerto Rico Tip-Off championship has worn off. After all, NC State nearly lost to Boston College on Saturday afternoon.

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Big 12 Season Recap and Postseason Preview

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 7th, 2012

Steve Fetch is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12. You can also find his musings online at Rock Chalk Talk or on Twitter @fetch9.

Conference Tournament Preview

The big attraction this year for many fans is the chance to see one more KansasMissouri battle before the Tigers leave for the SEC. If Kansas reaches the final, they will likely be a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and there’s still a chance Missouri can nab one if they win the Big 12 Tournament as well. Given the general lack of depth on both teams it might behoove them to lose early and rest up for the NCAA Tournament, but their competitiveness and seed chasing will probably lead to one last matchup.

Let's Go For a Third, Shall We? (AP)

The Big 12 has likely locked up five bids in the tournament, with a sixth possibly going to Texas. The Longhorns will need to beat Iowa State Wednesday night to have a shot, and with how soft the bubble is this year, that will probably be enough.

Elsewhere, Baylor can potentially get a #3 seed if they make a run (though with their new uniforms I am wondering if there is a way we can keep them out of the postseason altogether) and Iowa State can probably get away from the dreaded #8/#9 game if they do so as well. Kansas State‘s seeding could range widely depending on its performance this week, but the Wildcats are soundly in the Dance.

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Checking In On… the Big 12 Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 27th, 2012

Steve Fetch is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12. You can also find his musings online at Rock Chalk Talk or on Twitter @fetch9.

The Week That Was

  • Game Of The Year: Kansas was 16:42 away from being swept by Missouri and perhaps letting the Big 12 title slip away. Perhaps recognizing the importance of the last meeting as conference foes, Kansas overcame a 19-point deficit, took the game to overtime, and behind 28 points and 12 rebounds from Thomas Robinson, as well as 24 points and five assists from Tyshawn Taylor, the Jayhawks clinched no worse than a share of their eighth straight Big 12 title and perhaps have the inside track on a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Wildcats Looking Strong: Kansas State notched a huge win on the road at Missouri last Monday, and coupled with its victory over Baylor on Saturday, it was the first time Frank Martin’s team had beaten top ten teams back-to-back on the road. The Wildcats lost to Iowa State on Saturday, but the wins over Baylor and Missouri perhaps locked them into an NCAA Tournament berth.
  • A Coaches’ League: Frank Haith and Bill Self have gotten a lot of ink for national coach of the year, but the Big 12 Coach of the Year might be Fred Hoiberg. The Mayor has taken Iowa State from the conference basement to a probable NCAA tournament berth, as the Cyclones currently sit in a tie for third in the league. Royce White and Chris Allen have been great as transfers, but it’s Hoiberg who gave them the second chance and has gotten everyone to buy in. Impressive stuff up in Ames.

All Eyes Were On Allen Fieldhouse Saturday, And The Jayhawks And Tigers Delivered A Game For The Ages. (David Eulitt/The Kansas City Star)

Power Rankings

  1. Kansas (24-5, 14-2): The final regular season of the Border War was one of the best ever and with the win Kansas clinched a share of its eighth straight Big 12 title. A win in either of its last two games – at Oklahoma State or at home against Texas – can clinch it outright, continuing perhaps the most underrated streak in sports.
  2. Missouri (25-4, 12-4): In the span of a week, Missouri went from Big 12 favorites to having next to no shot at even winning a share of the Big 12 title. After being ahead by ten points or more for much of the second half, Missouri fans are no doubt questioning Frank Haith’s decision to stall on offense for much of the half (a strategy I tentatively agree with, by the way) as well as the final possession when Missouri did not even get a shot off. They didn’t have a timeout so Haith could not draw up a play, but not having a better option built into the offense there was a bad move. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… The Big 12 Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 20th, 2012

Steve Fetch is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12. You can also find his musings online at Rock Chalk Talk or on Twitter @fetch9.

Reader’s Take


The Week That Was

  • Baylor Falls At Home: Baylor had only lost conference games to Kansas and Missouri, but that changed with a one-point loss at home against Kansas State. Despite Wildcat freshman Angel Rodriguez traveling on an easy layup, Baylor could not win on its last possession when freshman Quincy Miller missed a shot with just seconds left. Baylor didn’t score in the final two minutes of the game, and had a couple of possessions marred by some physical play that went uncalled. The loss drops the Bears into a tie with Iowa State for third in the league.
  • Can The Jayhawks Make A Deep Run?: One of the tenets in picking a national champion is finding a team that is ranked in the KenPom top ten in both offensive and defensive efficiency. At this point, only two teams meet these criteria: Kentucky and Kansas. The Jayhawks are tenth in adjusted offense and fourth in adjusted defense, giving them the ability to play with any team in the nation. Though its offense has been concentrated in Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor (and lately Jeff Withey), the Jayhawks have good defenders all over the floor, which is exactly how Bill Self likes it. Considering the perception of Kansas coming into the season after losing the Morris twins, Self’s team has come a long way.
  • A Banner Day In Stillwater: Oklahoma State’s Keiton Page had the game of his career, scoring a career-high 40 points in a win over Texas. Page was efficient from the field, going 4-6 from two and 4-8 from three, but he was fantastic from the line, getting to the charity stripe 20 times and making every last one. Page’s shooting percentages have dropped a bit this year as he’s had to take a more active role in the offense, but Saturday was a reminder of what shooting skill the senior has.

Phil Pressey And The Tigers Keep Their Eyes On The Prize As They Battle Kansas In Lawrence This Saturday. (US Presswire)

Power Rankings

  1. Missouri (25-2, 12-2): Missouri has the best offense in the country (by a good margin), but its defense has been just mediocre. The Tigers are now fourth in the Big 12 in defensive efficiency, and have allowed over a point per possession in five of their last six games. Hosting a Kansas State team that struggles to score should give Frank Haith’s crew an opportunity to tighten up its defense.
  2. Kansas (18-5, 8-2): Kansas has never lost to Texas Tech in Allen Fieldhouse, winning this year’s edition by 33 points. Four Jayhawks scored in double figures, including Conner Teahan, who made three of his five threes, which is a huge key for the Jayhawks if they want to advance far in the NCAA Tournament. Probably the player who most delighted the home crowd, though, was walk-on Jordan Juenemann, who scored a career-high 7 points in the waning minutes. Read the rest of this entry »
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