Georgia is in for a challenge taking on Bruce Weber’s Kansas State Wildcats.
Expect a physical, low-scoring fight inside Bramlage Coliseum (“The Octagon of Doom”) when the Dawgs and Wildcats face off. This is a bubble matchup with two teams going in opposite directions. Kansas State was largely out of the NCAA Tournament picture during the non-conference portion of the schedule and even was an afterthought three weeks ago, but has emerged during conference play to knock off Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, TCU and Baylor. The Wildcats have won four of their last five and the loss sandwiched in between was a tight 73-72 loss at Phog Allen Fieldhouse. Georgia was in consideration for an NCAA Tournament bid during the non-conference schedule and with decisive wins over Alabama and Ole Miss, Georgia was considered in the field by the vast majority of bracketologists. Georgia has had a rough last five games, dropping four of them and being taken out of consideration for the NCAA Tournament for the time being.
Bruce Weber’s Wildcats
Kansas State may be a “slower” paced team, but they certainly do not mind playing fast and they can be very aggressive in terms of their efforts to force turnovers. They have two guards and two forwards who are adept at getting steals, which means that opponents better watch out as far as the passing lanes and ball-handling. However, they will likely be without 5’10” Point Guard Kamau Stokes due to a foot injury. Cartier Diarra is being asked to step up and while he is a downgrade when it comes to forcing turnovers and ball movement, he’s a more efficient shooter and frequent driver.
Kansas State is not a particularly deep team and the team may play effectively 7-8 deep. Everyone is adept at attacking the basket off the dribble with the likely exception of 6’9″ post Makol Mawien. Mawien is the closest thing to a shot blocker that they have, this is not a team blessed with much size in the post. They are not undersized from the 1-3 spots.
The toughest matchup is not Barry Brown, he’s a very tough defender and he is a threat from everywhere on the court. However, Dean Wade is the nightmare. Wade is able to post-up, face-up and attack, shoot threes and he can defend. Wade is much like Yante Maten, but without the rebounding prowess and shot blocking ability. Wade’s ability to get steals offsets his inability to block shots.
Kansas State’s strengths:
- Ability to force turnovers
- Shooting ability
- Ability to get to the Free Throw Line
- Avoiding turnovers
- Strong ball movement
- Efficiency at scoring at the rim
Kansas State’s weaknesses:
- Size in the post
Kansas State’s inability to rebound is a big problem for them and it sets them up for one-and-out possessions and for opponents to get second chance points on them. Kansas State has to make up for this by forcing turnovers because otherwise they are simply unable to defend in an efficient fashion.
Kansas State’s adjusted defensive efficiency is 99.8 per KenPom and the major reason for it is their inability to close out possessions and they allow opponents to have a .381 FTA/FGA ratio, which is terrible.
Georgia Poses Some Matchup Issues for Kansas State
What does Georgia do really well? They are able to get offensive rebounds, which plays right into Kansas State’s biggest weakness.
Georgia’s most efficient offense is the second-chance opportunity. For the sake of contrast, Kansas State has 40 putback attempts within 4 seconds of an offensive rebound out of 1,110 Field Goals Attempted, which is 3.6% of their attempts. Georgia has 82 putback attempts within 4 seconds of an offensive rebound out of 1,047 Field Goals Attempted, which is 7.83% of all Field Goal Attempts. Georgia has a higher putback rate than North Carolina, Florida State, Auburn and Michigan State.
Georgia has plenty of size in the post as many know and the team’s length confounds opponents. However, the defensive efforts feed off the offensive freedom. There’s no offensive freedom and the pace of play is at its slowest ever since Ken Pomeroy started measuring adjusted tempo in the 2001-02 Season.
Georgia’s pace of play is now officially the slowest in the SEC at 64.4 adjusted possessions per game, which is 333rd fastest in the country.
Georgia features one of the most conservative offenses and defenses in the country. This is a team that will have 20-25 second offensive possessions and does not gamble on the defensive end. There are no efforts to force turnovers, the objective is to force a bad shot and get the rebound. It’s a 1/4 court Man-to-Man Defense that is not always adept at getting set and putting away possessions.
Georgia’s two sequences get figured out in the second half rather quickly by opposing defenses and this iteration of Bulldogs is not aggressive enough at attacking the 2-3 Zone. Georgia’s propensity for committing turnovers and opponents’ ability to get second chance points plays into Kansas State’s strength.
However, Georgia could create a Free Throw Parade, if Mark Fox lets the team attack. However, Georgia is a jump shooting team. 40.2% of shots attempted are between 4 and 20 feet from the basket, which is 9th highest in the country.
What to Expect?
Georgia’s ability to get Free Throws can be easily negated by Mark Fox. The effort on the glass may not be enough against a Kansas State team that is so adept at getting points off turnovers.
In the past seven games, Georgia when considering the extra effort differential (points off turnovers and second chance points):
- Arkansas: +4
- Auburn: -18
- LSU: +9
- South Carolina: -7
- Missouri: -13
- Alabama: -6
- Ole Miss: -4
Georgia has not been able to get the extra effort point edge in five of these games. Georgia’s ability to get second chance points is often negated by their own self-inflicted mistakes and it is possible that while Georgia derives as much as 20% of their offense from second chance points in a game, it may hold less bearing than thought.
Kansas State’s ability to force turnovers can make a huge difference. Georgia needs to win out in terms of differential on the road and they did not do so against Auburn and Missouri.
The team with the more efficient offense and aggressive defense wins the game. That’s Kansas State. Bruce Weber is a better coach than Mark Fox and while he may not have as much talent in Manhattan, he delivers results. Weber has been in the NCAA Tournament in three out of five seasons at Kansas State. Weber got himself off the hot seat after back-to-back disappointing seasons with last season’s effort resulting in an NCAA Tournament appearance. Weber has an NCAA Tournament quality team and he’s a coach who has taken a team to the NCAA Tournament Finals.
Mark Fox has two NCAA Tournament one-and-out appearances (both as #10 seeds in Charlotte) in eight seasons at Georgia and his best days were in Nevada as his program slowly receded in Reno resulting in back-to-back CBI appearances before impressing former UGA President Michael Adams. Fox’s program is not ready for the NCAA Tournament as it appears right now, the program could be two seasons away from an NCAA Tournament berth. The only way this trajectory changes is if Fox makes a major tweak like he did in 2012-13 that spurred the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.
Kansas State is a quality program and Bruce Weber has made the most out of JUCO talent and his local base despite the limitations in an extremely challenging conference.
Prediction: Kansas State 60 Georgia 51
And now translated from English to Czech to German to Samoan to Belarusian to English, the Kansas State Fight Song “Wildcats Win!”
In order to try war baby!
Glory to God in the battle
For the purple and white.
True to our colors.
What we do in some cases,
The fight in the Revolutionary War