IF WIGGINS IS THE NEXT LEBRON, WHY ISN’T KANSAS IN THE TOP 16?
Two media myths were dispelled very quickly in the 2013-14 college basketball season. First, all the hype about Andrew Wiggins being the next LeBron James in terms of potential NBA impact was obviously off-base once everyone got to see him play. A nice player to be sure. Maybe a future star. But, what we were seeing on the floor was nowhere near what had been promised. Second, the natural corollary that whichever college team got Wiggins for his “one-and-done” season was a shoe-win for that national title bit the dust as well. Kansas may still peak late and go the distance. Many other teams feature many other superstar players.
In fact, if the Big Dance were held right now, it’s debatable that Kansas would even reach the Sweet 16! The mainstream polls don’t have them that high after Kansas dropped its fourth game of the season this past weekend to San Diego State. The respected computer analysts we follow at this website barely having them cracking the top 16.
We’ll get to learn a lot about the true potential for Kansas when they visit Oklahoma Wednesday Night in a game that will be nationally televised by ESPN2. Kansas has already lost at Florida and Colorado in true road games. Oklahoma doesn’t quite rate as well as those teams at the moment. But, the Sooners did just win a road game at Texas, and are looking to climb into contention in the Big 12. It’s an ideal road test for Kansas. If they can’t win here…then this isn’t a championship team.
Let’s run the matchup through our ringer of indicator information, including data from Ken Pomeroy’s stat site and Jeff Sagarin’s computer ratings.
Against the Spread
Kansas has turned into a moneyburner, which is common for teams buried in early season media hype. What’s most disturbing is that the team has slumped to 2-7 ATS over their last nine games. They were actually playing above the earliest expectations before trending the wrong way. That can be a very bad sign for team unity and cohesiveness. The more these guys are together, the less impressive the results have been. Keep an eye on THAT developing story.
Kansas: #13 in Pomeroy, #14 in Sagarin
Oklahoma: #60 in Pomeroy, #48 in Sagarin
You can see that the computer guys have Kansas barely in the Sweet 16. Oklahoma is a borderline Dance team at the moment, and is certainly looking to improve its resume. Even though it’s still early January, this is still a very important game for both teams in the big picture. Oklahoma needs a quality win. Kansas needs to avoid losses to this caliber of opponent to maximize seeding potential.
Offensive Rank (Adjusted for Schedule)
Both teams have played great offense this year…in a season where a lot of teams have unleashed offenses because of a change in the way fouls are called. This should be a very exciting game to watch given those rankings from Pomeroy that adjust for pace and caliber of opponents. Few teams have exploited the ability to charge at the basket better than these two teams thus far.
Defensive Rank (Adjusted for Schedule)
This is what separates the teams. Kansas still guards the basket with authority as they navigate potential foul trouble. Oklahoma is WAY off the pace needed to be a tournament team. Kansas should explode tonight against that defense. If the Jayhawks don’t, then something’s wrong.
Track meet! Kansas is faster than average. Oklahoma is faster than more than 300 other college teams. Oklahoma will try to run Kansas out of the gym. That may play right into the Jayhawks hands though given their talented scorers and superior defense. Hint: this is why we picked this game to preview. It could be one of the most entertaining visual feasts of the whole season!
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The rest of the week here in the NOTEBOOK will be devoted to NFL Playoff previews. We’ll take the games in the order they’ll be played with the following publication schedule:
Thursday: New Orleans at Seattle
Friday: Indianapolis at New England
Saturday: San Francisco at Carolina
Sunday: San Diego at Denver
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