The Tempo-Free (national rank in parentheses)
|Year||Offensive Efficiency||Defensive Efficiency||Pace|
|2014-15||110.6 (36)||91.7 (10)||67.4 (53)|
|2015-16||113.2 (10)||90.9 (4)||76.0 (12)
The first stat that stands out is that Kansas plays very fast. Last year they were top 50 in offensive average possession length and they might even faster this year with their 2 PG lineup. Going off of last year's stats, their two centers in Landen Lucas and Jamari Traylor are low-usage athletic bigs. Brannen Greene is a 6'7" version of Bryn Forbes who has shot more than twice as many 3's than 2's in his career at better than 40% but did not have a real effect in last year's matchup. Last year they had an all-around good defense and got to the FT line at a pretty high rate ranked 42nd in the country. An interesting stat to me is that despite their good overall team athleticism, they got their shot blocked a lot offensively and that ranked #333 nationally. That's likely to go along with their FTRate as they are a contact-seeking team but if the foul isn't called then they're likely to get blocked.
Things to watch:
1. Who is going to guard the second Kansas big man? - With Gavin Schilling (and to an extent Marvin Clark) MSU has very limited frontcourt depth. Ideally they'd put Davis and Costello out there against Kansas combination of Ellis and Lucas/Traylor but that might be costly if one or both gets in foul trouble. Davis' rim-protection could a huge factor if he's able to stay in the game. Izzo started Javon Bess at the 4 in the opener but he's only 6'5" and might struggle to contain whoever he's guarding in the post.
2. Can MSU get good shots in the halfcourt? - A big part of MSU's offense the last couple years has been its play in transition. In the 2 exhibition games and the season opener against FAU MSU averaged just over 20 fast-break points. However, these points are going to be harder to come by against a more athletic Kansas team. So with 5 seconds to go in the shot-clock, which MSU player will be able to break down the defense to get a good look?
3. Secondary playmaker behind Valentine - Valentine is "the guy" for MSU this year and there's no disputing that. So if he's either struggling or on the bench, who's going to step up and score for MSU? Bess and Matt McQuaid had promising moments in the exhibition games while Costello has a developing post-game. Harris looks like the most obvious candidate but he's also likely to face a smaller player in Devonte Graham when he's in limiting his quickness at getting to the rim.
MSU lost last year by 5 in a game in which Dawson, Trice, and Clark combined for 7-36 from the field. As their replacements at the 1 and 4 are nowhere near the shot-takers they are, I would expect better efficiency from MSU as a whole. Selden has been hyped up a lot since the World University Games but I question the overall level of competition/athleticism during those matchups. He shot just 6-28 (8-10 FT) for 22 points during the final and that middling efficiency is more in line with what we've seen from him in his first two years where he's had 98.0 and 104.9 ORtg's with no more than a 20% usage rating. I'd give the backcourt edge to MSU and I think MSU's bigs' experience in Italy against National teams has prepared them enough to face this Kansas frontcourt without giving up too much.
MSU 68 - KU 63