Jan 9, 2019; Manhattan, KS, USA; Kansas State Wildcats head coach Bruce Weber yells to the officials during the second half against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Bramlage Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
Time: 3 p.m.
Location: Manhattan, Kan.
KenPom Prediction: 64-63, Kansas State
1 – Barry’s Ballin’
On Thursday night’s Mechdyne powered Cyclone Fanatic Radio Show, Rob Gray and I got into a conversation about the Big 12 awards for this season. We both agree Dedric Lawson still feels like the frontrunner to win Big 12 player of the year with Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver and Iowa State’s Marial Shayok probably next behind him, but it seems like there will be a great case for Kansas State’s Barry Brown is the Wildcats are able to hold on and win the league.
In Big 12 play alone, Brown is averaging 15.4 points per game, the sixth-highest average in the league, and a league-leading 2.0 steals per game. He’s scored in double-figures in 10 straight Big 12 games after scoring only eight points in the Wildcats’ league-play opening loss to Texas.
This stretch includes a 23-point performance capped by the game-winning layup with a few seconds left on the clock in Kansas State’s 58-57 win over Iowa State in Hilton Coliseum last month. Brown owned that game and he’s proven to be the best player on the floor in most of Kansas State’s Big 12 games this season.
I would not be at all surprised if he picks up some steam for the league’s top individual honor if the Wildcats keep rolling.
2 – ‘Clone Zone?
There are 353 Division I men’s basketball programs. Kansas State’s 0.813 points per possession against zone defenses is No. 309 out of those 353 teams.
To put it simply, the Wildcats really struggle against the zone. Kansas State came out swinging early on in its win over Kansas earlier this month then the Jayhawks switched to a zone and it completely stifled Bruce Weber’s offense for close to a half.
Only five teams in the country have played more of their offensive possessions against zone than Kansas State so don’t be surprised to see the Cyclones mix that wrinkle in at some point on Saturday.
Iowa State has played 18 possessions of zone defense in the halfcourt this season and they’re allowing just 0.667 points per possession.
3 – Weber Code
We all know how this game is going to be. It will be a knockdown, drag-out slugfest from beginning to end inside the Octagon of Doom. Basically, every Kansas State game plays out that way.
The Wildcats are an elite defensive team and figuring out a way to crack that defensive code better than the first meeting will be key to the Cyclones’ success. A lot of Iowa State’s struggles in that game came down to just making shots, but the way Kansas State swarms defensively puts a ton of pressure on opposing ball-handlers.
If Iowa State is going to leave Manhattan with a win, they will have to be the tougher and more disciplined team.