Kansas State makes their living in one big way: offensive rebounding. This year Kansas State is rebounding 42.5% of their misses, which is 4th best in the country. Over the past three years, they have been ranked 4th, 1st and 2nd. Just to make sure they aren’t making their living rebounding extremely well against bad teams, then disappearing against the good ones, I looked up their numbers against teams with good post players from the last two years.
Basically this chart was a lot of work to say that for the most part, especially last season, K State held their own against the best rebounding teams they played. Before you go overboard saying that they only outperformed their season long stat 3 times (ironically, twice against a national champion), that is to be expected. It’s natural for the team to beef up their numbers against bad teams, and thus suffer a bit against good teams, even if they rebounded well. So, this is a roundabout way of saying that Kansas State’s offensive rebounding numbers are for real, and you can expect them to be just as good this season.
Coming into the year, Kansas State was expected to lean on Denis Clemente, who took the most shots on the team last year. But it has been Junior Jacob Pullen who has taken over for the Wildcats. Pullen has taken the most threes on the team (105) and leads them in 3 point percentage (45%). He’s also showing a better ability to take it to the rack this year, as evidenced by his 7.3 fouls drawn per 40 minutes, which is 29th in the country. In fact, Kansas State has 3 players in the top 50 in that category, and as a result has the best free throw rate in the entire country. Now, contrary to popular basketball adage, getting to the free throw line isn’t an extremely important part of winning games (more on this at a later date hopefully) but in a close game the importance increases, and I have a theory that I have no idea how I would prove that it is more important in slower paced games (although the opposite could be true seeing as similar free throw rates + faster tempo = getting more opponents in foul trouble). In any event, this knack for drawing fouls could actually hurt the Wildcats since they are just 269th nationally, shooting their free throws at 65%.
K State has had 4 tough games this year (5 if you want to call Alabama tough) and gone 2-2 in said games. They have an underrated tough stretch coming up, with games at home vs Texas A&M (surprisingly decent), at Colorado (yuck), home against Texas (interestingly, only projected to lose by 1), home against Oklahoma State, at Baylor and home against Kansas. How they fare in those 6 games could determine their NCAA tournament fortunes.