clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2018 NCAA Tournament - Creighton v Kansas State - Into The Numbers

Kansas State, statistically, is familiar for the Jays.

NCAA Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-Creighton vs Providence Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, when Creighton entered the field of 68 as a six seed against Rhode Island they quickly became a hot upset pick amongst your shitty co-workers and former lovers. A lot of bloggers and media folk went on and on about how good Rhode Island’s defense was, how the Jays limped into the tournament after losing so much, about how Danny Hurley is a crazy but kind man in a nice suit. The Rams even entered the matchup as a two point favorite.

Everyone was right. The Rhode Island defense picked the Jays apart and obliterated them to smithereens. The Rams became the bookend to a wild, bizarre, and ultimately depressing season.

As seasons of sports end, another is around the corner anew patiently pulling you to the same depressing conclusion lest your sport lust can be satiated with a 5-seed in the NIT.

The wildness toned down, the heroics touched up a bit, the Creighton Bluejays have meandered their way to an 8 seed to face the Kansas State Wildcats. These Wildcats boast a feral defense in terms of forcing turnovers, as they’re prone to pick pockets, and levee those steals into buckets.

Statistically speaking, Rhode Island and Kansas State are eons apart in how they frustrate their opposition defensively. The Rams of a year ago ranked 30th in Kenpom in terms of defensive efficiency, as they allowed just .95 points per possession. In contrast, K-State is currently ranked 41st in that same category, allowing .97 points per possession. Things diverge when noting that Rhode Island blocked a shot on 15.7% of all their defensive possessions, good for third in the country, yet forced a turnover just 19% of the time. Kansas State, however, gets a steal on 11.3% of all their defensive possessions, good for sixth in the nation, while forcing a turnover on 21% of all defensive possessions.

Size-wise they’re roughly the same. Kansas State plays just a tad smaller, but boasts a little more speed.

In terms of likeness of teams Creighton has played so far this year, St. John’s matches up the best in terms of comparisons. The Johnnies rank better in forced turnovers per game and measure up equally in steals per possession:

KSU v CU Opp. Defense

Stat Kansas State St. John's Villanova Butler Providence Seton Hall Xavier
Stat Kansas State St. John's Villanova Butler Providence Seton Hall Xavier
Steal % 11.70% 11.70% 9.40% 9.40% 9.70% 8.80% 8
Defensive TO% 21.40% 22.20% 18.50% 19.80% 18.90% 17.90% 15.7
Def. ToP (seconds) 18.3 17.6 16.6 17 17.3 17.2 17.3
Total Possessions 65.5 69.2 68.2 67.8 67 69.3 70.4
Def. Pts Per Poss. 0.974 0.966 0.96 0.979 0.97 0.991 0.991

Kansas State’s defense looks and smells like St. John’s statistically. Let’s look at how Creighton did against St. John’s this year:

Alright, that seems like a positive spin to this. Focusing on defense is what those dirty talking heads on television wanted to portray so let’s focus on the offensive side of the ball.

Kansas State is far superior offensively than St. John’s. They’re roughly in the same neighborhood as Butler, and a pretty sizable step better than Georgetown. They rely on a rotation of primarily three players to get things done for them - Barry Brown (will play), Dean Wade (questionable), and Xavier Sneed.

The Wildcats don’t shoot three pointers well. They tend to rely on dribble drives on isolations, or utilizing the pick and roll. It’s reminiscent of a less hectic St. John’s, an idealized version of Seton Hall, a classical Georgetown. The ‘Cats try to get the ball as close to the bucket as possible to get a high percentage shot. It’s efficient. It isn’t flashy. It simply works.

Here’s the same table as above, with offensive numbers plugged in, where you can see some stark similarities with a team that Creighton split with this season:

KSU v CU Opp. Offense

Stat Kansas State St. John's Villanova Butler Providence Seton Hall Xavier
Stat Kansas State St. John's Villanova Butler Providence Seton Hall Xavier
eFG% 53.50% 49.20% 59.70% 53.80% 49.60% 52.80% 55.7
2pt% 54.60% 48.80% 59.70% 54.10% 49.50% 51.90% 55.9
Off. ToP (seconds) 17.8 16.3 17.8 17.3 17.3 16.7 16.1
Total Possessions 65.5 69.2 68.2 67.8 67 69.3 70.4
Off. Pts Per Poss. 1.122 1.066 1.273 1.157 1.088 1.163 1.207

With a primarily man-to-man gameplan that gnaws at passing lanes with a Butler-esque offense to complement it, the Wildcats should offer a formidable opponent for the Jays. As long as Creighton manages to take care of the ball and not bury themselves in their own mistakes, their offense should be able to handle the Wildcats while their defense can carry them through.

Here are the same stats from above with Creighton and Kansas State side-by-side for good measure:


Stat Kansas State Creighton
Stat Kansas State Creighton
Steal % 11.70% 7.50%
Defensive TO% 21.40% 15.80%
Def. ToP (seconds) 18.3 17.9
Total Possessions 65.5 70.8
Def. Pts Per Poss. 0.974 0.992
eFG% 53.50% 58%
2pt% 54.60% 59.30%
Off. ToP (seconds) 17.8 15.1
Off. Pts Per Poss. 1.122 1.164

Offense! Defense! Hot fun in Charlotte!

All stats courtesy of Kenpom. All Hail Kenpom for article ideas.