KU vs WSU - Match Ups
I thought I would break the game down into match ups. I’ve watched every KU game this year, and probably half of the Shocker games. If anyone feels they have a better angle on this, please post it.
KU Bill Self: He’s been around the block before, especially in March. He’s made it to the pinnacle in 2008 and returned knocking on the door in 2012. He always maintains poise and projects that onto his players. He always tries to run his stuff on both sides of the ball, long into the game, and if things don’t go his way he (perhaps) waits too long to make drastic changes (play zone or junk defense). His weakness is motivating players for just one game, or a half, or for even a short spurt.
WSU Gregg Marshall: He is a relative newcomer to March. His March resume is recent, but aggressive and on the upward tick. A big part of his coaching tactics are based around attitude. He brings “scrappy” to his teams and a sense of always playing with an underdog chip on their shoulders. His biggest weakness is March inexperience.
Advantage: Bill Self, based mostly on his vast March experience.
PG Frank Mason (5’11" ): Has come one to be a solid PG. Strengths include his ability to drive to the hole and finish, and his overall toughness and willingness to take over games in the closing minutes. Weaknesses include his ability to see the floor and attack with a high level of basketball IQ. His background was as a volume-scoring SG, so he still has a lot to learn. Also, needs to be more vocal and take on the role of leading his team.
PG Fred VanVliet (6’ ): One of the premiere PGs in America. His only weakness is his height. He has a very high basketball IQ and is very capable of either driving and scoring himself, or setting up someone else to score.
Advantage: Fred VanVliet
SG Wayne Selden (6’5" ): Is a very capable player on both sides of the ball. Strengths include his ability to hit the 3 or use his body strength and drive the ball. Can play good defense. Is on a recent uptick. Weaknesses include he sometimes plays out of control and can turn the ball over. If his head isn’t in the game, he will lose his man on defense.
SG Ron Baker (6’3" ): Is a natural scorer, both from the perimeter and driving in the paint. Strengths include his overall toughness and his poise. Plays under control. Very capable of getting hot and taking over a game. Weaknesses include his size. He often has to play against bigger guards. This year he has often fallen into minor slumps. He didn’t play exceptionally well against Indiana so he may still be on the downward slide.
SF Kelly Oubre (6’7" ): Is currently playing his best ball. Strengths include he is very capable from 3 and very capable of driving the ball and either scoring, getting fouled, or both. He brings in very good energy and has a knack for stealing balls and generating extra possessions. Very capable rebounder. Weaknesses include his youth and inexperience. Sometimes he misses a defensive assignment. Sometimes he disappears in games where he should push harder.
SF Tekele Cotton (6’3" ): Very experienced March player. Strengths include his athleticism and playing very tough defense. Has a reasonable ability to hit the long ball, and can drive and finish at the rim. Weaknesses include sometimes he disappears in games for long stretches. He should be playing with a chip on his shoulder because this is his last March dance.
Advantage: Slight for Tekele Cotton
PF Perry Ellis (6’8" ): Has played extremely aggressive ever since his missed layup in Morgantown. Strengths include his deep toolbox for scoring anywhere from the perimeter to the rim. His recent aggressiveness has lifted his game considerably. Weaknesses include that he is still playing injured. Can he bring enough game to be the dominant player he will need to be? Perry will carry a chip on his shoulders because he is from Wichita.
PF Evan Wessel (6’4" ): He is the “glue man” for the Shockers. Strengths include he plays scrappy basketball and brings inspiration to his team. He is a very capable defender even though he lacks athleticism. On offense, he can score from 3 and mid range, but tends to not emphasize scoring. Weakness is his athleticism. Very vulnerable defending post players with capable footwork (Perry).
Advantage: Huge for Perry Ellis
C Landen Lucas (6’10" ): He has had to come on recently in a step in roll. Strengths include his height and fundamentals in the low post. Seems to be playing better every game now. Weaknesses include his lack of strength and sometimes lack of aggressive play. Propensity to foul. Very little March experience. Capable of scoring in the post under the right conditions, like playing against a smaller foe.
C Darius Carter (6’7" ): He’s a PF who plays C. Strengths include his ability to score from the low post. He is often given an isolation to score in the post. Weaknesses include his size and ability to defend the post. He also has a propensity to foul.
Advantage: Slight for Darius Carter
Jayhawk Bench: Very deep but inexperienced in March, except for Jamari Traylor. Brannen Greene and Devonte Graham have the potential to come in and make an immediate positive impact. To some degree, so does Jamari Traylor with his hustle. Further depth includes Hunter Mickelson and Svee. Hunter is a very capable defender and has an offensive toolbox but also a propensity to foul.
Shocker Bench: Very deep but inexperienced in March. Zach Brown is the Shocker’s lesser version of Brannen Greene, capable of getting hot from 3. Shaq Morris is their answer to Jamari Traylor. He has more size and more offensive weapons, but also can play out of control like Jamari can. Rashard Kelly is an energy guy that might see some minutes. He is capable of making either a negative or positive impact. Bush Wamukota is their one big 5. He is a capable shot blocker, but more a guy who can impact post shots. Not a very capable scorer, hence the reason why he sees few minutes.
Advantage: Slight for Kansas
All the match ups in this game look interesting. It is sort of amazing how well these teams match up to each other. Two areas stick out the most. For WSU it is Fred VanVliet. Can he take control of the game? Can he score at will? Can he break down the tough Kansas M2M with his penetration? For KU it is all about Perry Ellis. Will he bring a big chip into this game and play with great intensity? We already know we will play our offense through Perry. Can he impact our offense enough positively to help us break down the sticky Shocker defense?
And how about the coaches… Will Bill Self bring a more proactive attitude to try and prevent Shocker runs? Will Gregg Marshall be able to motivate his troops to play at the higher level of ball typically played by Kansas?
And how about the teams… Will Kansas bring high-energy basketball for 40 minutes? Will they take care of the ball when playing against a scrappy Shocker defense that extends into the passing lanes? Will the Shocker’s lack of size and athleticism be exposed in this game by the bigger, more athletic Jayhawks?
I look at a game so evenly matched and think the difference in this game will center around possessions. Who owns the most possessions? WSU, typically, does not turn the ball over. Kansas… you never know! Kansas will be tested because the Shockers like to extend their defense into the passing lanes. One nice counter move for Kansas will be the back door. They already showed that often in their cakewalk victory against the Aggies. Rebounds are crucial, especially if one team gives up offensive rebounds. On paper, neither team owns an advantage in this area and it will come down to who wants it more and who follows rebounding fundamentals the most. 50/50 balls… very important in this game. Who wants the ball most?
Comparing starting teams, Kansas has 12" more height on the floor. This gets into my previous thoughts on X and Y axis basketball. Kansas should own the Y. But it will only be possible if they play equal (or better) on the X. The team that plays the best horizontal basketball will win this game.
With both teams having so much at stake in this one, it is hard to imagine anything except a hard-fought close game going down to the wire.
Marshall and his crew may not have a LOT of March experience but it is fresh in the minds of some players who danced to the final four two year.s ago. That can go a LONG way. JMHO.
If we play like we did yesterday it will be fun to watch. Just give me two good halves again. RCJH.
@drgnslayr great post. Here are my thoughts to add to the discussion. A Baker’s dozen, no pun intended -
Playing Small: The big thing playing WSU is the fact that they play small. A review of their roster shows that they have no one over 6’7" that plays regularly. They have 6’11" kid who averaged 5.8 minutes per game. But their bread and butter is their guard play. They start four guys 6’4" or less with one 6’7".
Match Up Issues: Because they play small, the issue becomes who Ellis and Lucas guard. One option is to have Ellis guard the 6’4" Evan Wessel. He is not much of a scoring threat. We could then put Lucas on Carter. Lucas will be susceptible to the pick and roll with Carter as Carter is quicker. On the perimeter, Ellis is a better match to guard Carter. Thus our dilemma. WSU plays very small. If we can’t match up defensively, we’ll see Oubre at the 4 spot like we did vs. ISU.
Match Up Issues II: Our ability to guard WSU’s base lineup will be key. That is because I think WSU will really struggle to guard Lucas and Ellis in the post, with their lack of size. The early part of the game will give an indication on how this will play out. If we can guard, we can turn that into a big advantage like we did in the second half against UNC in the 2013 tourney.
WSU Aggressive On WSU plays very aggressively on D. They hedge hard out top, they double when the opportunity presents itself. Very well coached on defense. I would expect their strategy early to be to double our big guys, given the size discrepancy. That will create a key challenge for a big guys … passing out of the double team. If I’m anticipating WSU’s move, I’d really think about sending cutters to the hoop if they double. And doing that aggressively. WSU may double like SDSU did, remember that last season? We weren’t ready to hit cutters and that killed us. Later in the season, we saw guys cutting to the hoop on those doubles a little better. But I’ve never been satisfied with how we attack double teams in the post. It seems that our major reaction to that is to back dribble out. That’s not aggressive. That’s passive. And that permits the defense to take away a match up advantage without making them pay.
Two Bigs: WSU will play two bigs together from time to time, playing two of the three, Kelly, Morris, and/or Carter together. When they have two bigs on the floor, though, I still don’t think that we have distinct advantage. But it is conventional and that is how we play. And I think, overall, we have an advantage when they are forced to play one less perimeter player. But they might bench Wessel, who doesn’t score much. This may be where the game goes.
WSU Offense: Lots and lots of ball screens on the perimeter. They prefer inside ball screens (to permit drives toward the lane). They bring their big guys out (Carter/Kelly/Morris) and they’ll set screens. The big guys are all over the place setting screens. They will roll off those screens to the hoop. But where they thrive is Baker, Cotton or Van Vleet driving and kicking to the outside shooter. Each of them can get to the hoop. This is really their main method of attack. Another important element is that they will invert their offense. They don’t send their post guy out to shoot threes – really ever. But they will run their perimeter guys through the post, and they will flash for post up looks. I saw Baker do this a few times yesterday nearer to the high post. In other games, I’ve seen Baker and Cotton both post up low.
Numbers: I think many may initially think of WSU as a good three point shooting team. But they aren’t stellar. They shoot just 35.7% from three (we shoot 37.5%). We are streakier (obviously). But they shoot more three pointers than we do – 35.1% of their shots are three pointers (compared to KU at 28.1%). And they really don’t score at the rim that great, at 60.2% (compared to KU at 56.5%). Both teams are about the same in % of shots on two point jumpers (33.4% WSU/33.6% KU) and % of two point jumpers made (37.9% WSU/35.2% KU). When looking at the numbers, WSU is a team that shoots more threes at a little lower rate. They score better at the rim than we do. And they are little better on two point jumpers. Three guys shoot their threes – Baker, Cotton, and Van Vleet. But Baker is by far the best – near 40%. Van Vleet is good at 36.2%. And Cotton is bad – below 30%. They work hard to get Baker looks from three. He has shot 198 threes, compared to Cotton and Van Vleet (a combined 213).
When Numbers Could Be Misleading: Although some of the numbers seem to favor WSU, those numbers could be a bit misleading. When has WSU faced a team like Kansas this season? When have they faced our athletes? When have they faced our defense? We can’t look at our numbers in a vacuum, and we can’t look at WSU’s that way either. I think the biggest item to consider is their three point percentage. Although they have shot more three pointers than we have, they are below 700 for the season, which is less than Notre Dame and Villanova, for example, and certainly not in the Davidson (884) stratosphere. But will they be able to drive and get shots near the rim as easily against Kansas as they did in the MVC? They relied heavily on that during the regular season.
Self’s Strategy: Speculation here, but part of Self’s strategy might be to force them to shoot from three more than normal. That might be a bit counter-intuitive. But Self believes offensively that shooting threes is not a reliable strategy. He will be looking at WSU’s low three point percentage. He will also be looking at the fact that WSU does pretty well attacking the hoop. Packing in the defense a bit to cut off driving lanes … much like ISU did against us in the second half of the Big 12 title game, and then giving more attention to Baker, might be the best approach to WSU. Force threes, and try to ensure that someone other than Baker is shooting them. Really, I might just play Baker like a glove. There is no Cleanthony Early on this team. Obviously, if WSU is hot, this could really backfire. Whatever you do can backfire. As viewers, we’ll be able to tell our strategy pretty early. And as always, in game adjustments could be the deciding factor. Hope Self is on his game tomorrow. Don’t underestimate coaching. As much as well dislike Gregg Marshall, he is an excellent basketball coach. This game lies in Bill Self’s hands. He’ll come through.
A Key Defensive Thought: I didn’t see this a bunch yesterday, but over the season, I saw multiple times when WSU would drive and then shoot the pass from under or just in front of the hoop to the opposite wing/corner for the open three. Our off-side defender simply needs to be on alert for that and not get sucked in. This is particularly the case if the shooter on the wing is Baker. It could present the opportunity for some turnovers, or force bad shots or bad bail out passes by the driver.
Switching Screens: I know this is heresy in some quarters, but we could switch screens from time to time. I just think that stopping their big three from penetrating will be a key to this game and I wouldn’t hesitate to switch screens if necessary. But we can’t leave Traylor, for example, on any of their top perimeter guys. I worry about Traylor because Self tends to use him that way some times. Heck, that 3-2 zone with a matchup look on Baker, where ever he moves, is probably a great option, as well.
Brannen Greene: This seems like a really bad match up for Brannen Greene. I don’t see Greene keeping up with their main three perimeter players. Of course, if Greene gets it going from three, we won’t care whether Baker or Cotton burn him a few times.
Kansas Wins: This just seems like one of those games where we really do match-up well. Ellis should be able to score inside. That will be a big, big key. If Ellis can hang defensively with one of their smaller guys, that inside advantage will be heightened because they won’t be able to match up on our end. Lucas is not a skilled scorer, but he’ll be the biggest dude out there. Again, how we handle their double teams, which we know will be coming, will be key. This is a game where I do wish Mickelson was a bit more seasoned. He’d have multiple shot block opportunities and we could use that length vs. WSU drives. My concern is how aggressively WSU plays the perimeter, and how we handle that. If we can, we’ll get lots of opportunities. And most importantly, what do they have inside to really slow down Mason? The three point floodgate is opening. We could use a nice and tidy 7/15 (of course, I want more … but I can’t be greedy). KenPom says we would win 52% of the time. That isn’t optimistic. But I am. We’re better. KU 68 WSU 62.
Marshall and his crew may not have a LOT of March experience but it is fresh in the minds of some players who danced to the final four last year. That can go a LONG way. JMHO.
If we play like we did yesterday it will be fun to watch. Just give me two good halves again. RCJH.
Final Four two years ago for wichita. Kentucky bounced them early last year after going undefeated in the regular season.
Come to think of it why wasn’t wichita given the same opportunity that UK was last year? I’m sure WSU would like another shot at UK.
@dylans thanks for correcting me. I went back and edited that. Must be a little foggy from celebrating last night.
As far as WSU’s march experience, we play those teams in preseason, every year!
The only matchups that matter are VanVleet vs Mason/Graham & Baker vs Selden/Oubre.
I’m sure many watched Wichita yesterday to see what we were up against and while Baker didn’t have a great shooting game he is equally as good as VanVleet. VanVleet is the engine and Baker is the horsepower. Cater & Cotton make nice complementary roles just like Lucas & Traylor do for KU.
This game will be won by who plays better defense. Wichita plays good defense, Indiana is just a hard team to slow down and because of that they had to play at the pace of the Hoosiers. KU while it likes to run when it can, is a mid-tempo team at best that lets the opposing team dictate pace. So I expect Wichita to try and control the pace of the game and force us into a half-court team.
Mason has his hands full, we will need him to play good enough D to keep VanVleet in check. We saw KU double the post, KU should seriously think about forcing the ball out of his hands anytime we can. Offensively I hope he looks to be aggressive to score and pass as that was a big factor in how we played yesterday. I’m hoping Mason looks at this matchup as a chance to prove himself.
Ellis I’m hoping takes this game personally like he does the K-St rivalry. We need him to be better than was yesterday. Self pointed out that its all mental now with his knee which i was afraid of. Hopefully the rest he’s able to get between now and tomm afternoon is sufficient to progress him even more. We need his offense because they don’t have anyone who can stop him.
@HighEliteMajor I agree big time about Mick. This could be his breakout like Cole had vs sicko T in 08. He’s got the hustle, the hops, & the length for the advantage if his head is in the right place. He can definitely effect pace & pressure when given the opp & his hands seem to be steadier than LL, plus his shooting can also not be overlooked. I like him a lot.
I believe the key will be containing VanVleet and Baker; as VanVleet goes so does WSU. If Mason can neutralize VanVleet then KU’s chances go up exponentially. Baker will be hounded by two very good defenders, Selden and Oubre and will have to work for his points. Tekele is underrated and can be a key player; KU better not underestimate him. In the paint KU will have Ellis, Lucas, Traylor and Mickelson and will have a clear advantage. WSU is an experience team that played in the Final Four the year before last and all its players have good NCAA experience.
The stats might look better for WSU but keep in mind that they were partly built against weaker MVC competition while KU was against much stronger Big 12 competition. No question that KU has better big game experience than WSU and in the end, this might be the real difference.
@BeddieKU23 Fred vf reminds me of forte, he’s very good at throwing his body into the defense.
@HighEliteMajor I’m wondering if we might see Traylor a little more if Lucas can’t keep up with Carter. Also, I would think that either Cotton or Baker might have a hard time guarding Oubre with his reach…hopefully he can take them to the hole.
he’s quick and he knows how to put up shots in the lane for his slight size. He can also take games over on the perimeter if needed but it’s his skill leading the team that is the hardest thing to match-up with him.
We all know that Mason is still learning the PG spot and that’s something VanVleet has already mastered. It’s kind of like in the NBA for example VanVleet is the Chris Paul of his position and you have the young gun John Wall (Mason) who’s coming into himself as one of the best in the league/country. Nobody should underestimate these 2 guards on Wichita plus Cotton, they are seasoned vets and have plenty more tournament experience than we do.
If we contain the perimeter we should beat them up inside because Indiana made their inside game look great. We should take advantage of our interior players and make enough outside shots. UCLA’s big man went nuts today against a smaller inside team in UAB. I’m hopeful Lucas, Ellis & company can do the same.
Here is another factor for tomorrow’s game:
Kansas had a cakewalk game against the Aggies. They flat out stunk!
WSU had a real battle against the Hoosiers.
On first thought, I’m drawn to the idea that we will have the fresher legs.
On second thought, we got a twisted view of March Madness. We won’t have any easy outs from now on. Are our guys perhaps too confident because they didn’t really take any hits to the face on Friday?
The Shockers often play cold or hot, but they always bring intensity. They may be a bit winded from the frenetic pace brought by Indiana… but their guys have been there before and know what to do.
I don’t know if any of this matters. Just brought it up as a possible factor.
@BeddieKU23 Fred is good! But their seasoned vets have not played anywhere near the competition KU has. Yes they have gone further the past few years, we play those teams far more often. Indiana is terrible! Jmo
I personally think yesterday’s game helped our teams confidence tremendously.
We didn’t let the lead go away for once.
We made shots. Even more importantly Greene made 3’s, Mason made shots which he was struggling with. Fresh legs definitely could have been the reason for that.
We played great defense and really bothered their bigs with traps.
We didn’t let Thursday’s games in the Big 12 rattle our belief that we could win games in this tournament.
Now we didn’t play flawless but we are battle tested.
@BeddieKU23 loose, had fun! Played hard! Played smart!
@drgnslayr I disagree. We’re better than the Shlockers at every position. I’d take Frank any day of the week over VanFleet. I’d take Oubre any day of the week over Cotton. I think we will win by double digits.
I hope it built our confidence… but the Aggies really sucked. Their defense was atrocious.
I just hope we are able to put it in perspective… take the confidence out of the game while realizing that we’ll be in for a real dog fight on Sunday.
We win this game and we should have plenty of confidence, swagger, and also relief. This should relieve us from all the inner-state chatter.
A+! Always like your confidence!
@KUSTEVE I love Frank, but man Van Vleet is awfully good. I think they have an advantage there…we just need to keep that advantage to a minimum and outplay them elsewhere…
@drgnslayr did you think Indiana looked good?
Worlds above the Aggies. Not great… but they brought flashes of intensity and had the long ball to keep them close.
I thought the Aggies might have been the worst team we played all year. Surely they are a better team then what the came with.
My concern is they left us with a false sense of security. They played so badly that we don’t really know what to take from that game. I’d like to give our team credit for them playing bad… but really can’t do that. I still think we brought toughness and played a consistent 40 minutes.
It takes discipline and toughness to beat tough teams. It also takes discipline and toughness to beat bad teams. It is easy to sink to the level of your competition. I’ve seen Kansas do it many times in past years. But we didn’t do that. We hung in there and maintained pretty good poise. That is what I take from this game… that we remained poised even when the Aggies sucked.
@Hawk8086 VanFleet is great against the juco teams of the MVC - Frank is going to eat him up…
yes their defense wasn’t good but they missed a lot of shots, some were wide open so you take a team who shot well (KU) and a team who shot poorly and there ya go 19 point difference.
I’m just glad it was us that saw the ball go in the hoop. We had struggled mightily in first round match-ups in the last 5 years so it was releaving just to see us take care of business.
Anyone that doesn’t think VanVleet is good has not watched him enough or has a bias against him. He made a final 4 as a freshman and played well. Last year he ran into the Kentucky train. Without him this whole Wichita hoopla wouldn’t be anything, Baker couldn’t do it on his own they wouldn’t even be a tournament team. Just like KU, they wouldn’t have won 27 games without Mason he’s that important to the stability of this team.
Would you have wanted another nail biter?? If that was the case we would probably be signing a different tune going into this game. It’s a good thing we finally had a breather of a game and now with proper rest, we can really bring it on Sunday.
I totally agree.
Baker is okay. He can get hot (or not)… but WSU is all about VanVliet.
To beat a monster, cut off the head!
We control VanVliet, we win… simple as that (and difficult to do).
Everyone playing WSU knows they need to stop VanVliet. But WSU has still had a successful year. Their schedule wasn’t that good, but they can still ball with the big boys… and they will be playing with a big chip on their shoulders… that is always dangerous.
What I like about this game is I think WE SHOULD BE PLAYING WITH A CHIP, TOO! Our guys will have to eat inner-state crow for a long, long time if they blow this. Perry Ellis goes back to Wichita sometimes. He doesn’t want to listen to all that crapola.
I’m expecting a monster game from Ellis… M O N S T E R !
“Would you have wanted another nail biter?? If that was the case we would probably be signing a different tune going into this game. It’s a good thing we finally had a breather of a game and now with proper rest, we can really bring it on Sunday.”
Like I said… it seems to make sense that it helped us to have a cakewalk. But real life doesn’t always work that way. If I had my choice I would have picked a cakewalk if for no other reason than not put pressure on our banged up guys.
I certainly understand that your worried about what might happen, what has happened but at this point we just have to trust and believe in Self and the players to get it done. Myself, I’ve had problems believing in them for more than 2 minutes at a time. But tourney time can erase every negative thought you might have had if you win games. We have a chance to shut up an entire fanbase full of whining little brats.
“We have a chance to shut up an entire fanbase full of whining little brats.”
And also TV commentators. I didn’t really like all the chatter yesterday about Self being afraid to play WSU. I mentioned this before… in November I was in NYC and heard whining chatter from a couple of ball fans that saw my Jayhawk and rattled on about us being afraid of the Shockers. I hate that crapola! I wanted to put my wife in a cab and take those guys outside.
When people push my buttons I become Frank Martin times 10!
A monster game from Ellis would be fitting. I’m hoping the emotion of playing Wichita makes him forget his knee ever took a tumble. He needs to see the ball go in the hoop, those close range shots have looked off.
I would love to see us play with a chip, national pundits don’t give us a lick of a chance of going far. Most don’t even expect us to win Sunday. The last time that happened was the Davidson game with Steph Curry. Maybe their has been other times but that one sticks out to me with the David and Goliah type feel that Sunday has.
I think Perry is going to be relentless. If the ball doesn’t drop early on, he’ll just keep pushing it until it does drop. He’s going to have a monster game!
Interesting article in the KC Star about the players not regarding the game as a rivalry. Makes sense. We haven’t played each other and most of the players (other than Ellis, Baker, Wessel) are not from Kansas. I would think it would mean something to Ellis.
Match-ups, Smash ups…who wants this game more. If KU comes out and forgets who they’re playing after playing a less than NMSU, KU is in for a battle. WSU and Marshall will want this game for obvious reasons.
KU is overall the better team and are battle tested. But, teams that come and play with grit and determination tend to give KU fits on both ends of the court.
We know both teams, numbers, and hype. Here’s the question to be answered: Who wants it more?
Frank Mason III vs. Fred VanVleet: By the numbers Scott Chasen | @SChasenKU | Updated 15 minutes ago
Following Wichita State’s victory over Indiana, Shocker guard Ron Baker jokingly said “a lot of houses are going to be divided” on Sunday, during the showdown against Kansas. However, that comment is just the tip of the iceberg, as far as the divisive nature of the teams are concerned.
Start with the point guard matchup between Kansas’ Frank Mason III and Wichita State’s Fred VanVleet. With nearly identical height and weight, the two certainly are similar and stature, and their numbers match up quite closely as well.
However, as is often the case in sports, people would rather rank the two and come to a conclusion on why one is “far better” than the other, rather than appreciating the greatness in front of them. If you think Frank Mason can hold Fred VanVleet you stupid
— Edgar Batres (@kicks4days0911) March 20, 2015 @kicks4days0911 if you think Fred can hold Mason your crazy bro
— Jacob ❔ (@salasjacob18) March 20, 2015 Frank Mason > Fred VanVleet
— campagne papi (@camrentm) March 20, 2015 My little brother just said that Frank Mason is a better basketball player and point guard than Fred VanVleet He must be drunk as hell.
— Jordan Manning (@JayMann35) January 25, 2015 While fans can argue all that they want, statistically speaking, Mason and VanVleet are incredibly, incredibly similar players. Prior to the NCAA Tournament, the two differed by less than one point, rebound and steal per game, although VanVleet did average 1.3 more assists per game than his Kansas counterpart. Percentage-wise, it was the same story, as Mason held an extremely slight advantage, shooting about half-a-percent better from the field and the free throw line and 4-percent better from three.
However, it is worth noting that VanVleet’s numbers are a little inflated compared to Mason’s, seeing as the Shockers played just three games against ranked opponent on the year, compared to fifteen for the Jayhawks. Kansas ended with the top RPI strength of schedule in the nation, whereas Wichita State’s schedule was ranked 120.
“We’ve played against a lot of good point guards. The Big 12 has plenty of them,” said Kansas sophomore Wayne Selden. “I feel like [Mason] is the toughest point guard in the country. When you’ve got that on your team, you don’t want anything else.”
Now, the advanced statistics did put some separation between the two, as VanVleet had a much higher assist rate, for example, but a lot of that is a function of two things. First, VanVleet has a higher usage rate than Mason, meaning that Wichita State possessions are more likely to end with VanVleet than Kansas possessions are to end in the hands of Mason.
Second, unlike Kansas, the roster of Wichita State is not deep at all, with just five players averaging more than 14.5 minutes per game, compared to nine for Kansas. Simply put, VanVleet has the ball in his hands in meaningful situations more often, which is kind of a double-edged sword. On one hand, it does skew the statistics in VanVleet’s favor, but there’s also something to be said about the increased role he has on Wichita State.
“He’s an aggressive player,” said Kansas point guard Devonte’ Graham of VanVleet. “He looks to attack and score. Every time he has the ball in his hands, he makes plays for others, and he’s a really good point guard for them.
On a game-to-game basis, the statistics show that Mason was the far more consistent performer, scoring at least 10 points in 29 of his 35 games, which included one stretch where he scored 10-or-more points in 20-consecutive games. VanVleet, on the other hand, had more standout games, crossing the 18-point total on eight different occasions, but he also had six games with seven or fewer points, including two games where he scored two and three points.
Mason scored at least seven in all-but three games, and he never was below four points on the year, unlike VanVleet, but whereas the Wichita State point guard had two 27-point games, Mason never scored above 21. However, either way, it’s safe to say that the two have no problem scoring when needed. VanVleet breaking ankles! #Shockers (Vine by Michael, TBL) https://t.co/20qXF3JcYD
— Alex (@AlejandroRiv__) March 2, 2015 Vine’d is the modern day YouTube’d. RT @rustindodd … RT @marshallartist Frank Mason. https://t.co/Y9wGtU0Zwf
— Sam Mellinger (@mellinger) February 8, 2014 Now, as far as assists are concerned, the numbers again say that the two are incredibly similar, as each had 20 games with at least four assists. VanVleet did have a slightly higher peak, which is why he averages 1.3 more assists per game, but typically the numbers were consistent.
For example, VanVleet’s best passing stretch saw him rack up 29 combined assists in four-consecutive games, whereas Mason peaked at 28 total assists across four-straight outings. Both players have been able to get into the lane and dish to an open man this year, and both have had games where they’ve been at their best facilitating, although they’re obviously more-than capable scorers.
Wichita State guard Ron Baker and Kansas forward Perry Ellis, who lead their respective teams in points per game, echoed that sentiment. They said they enjoyed playing with such great facilitators and scorers, and when asked if having a point guard that can rack up points helped take the pressure off them, the two had similar answers.
“Absolutely,” Baker said on Saturday. “For me, the pressure [becomes] just making [shots].”
“It takes a lot [off of us],” Ellis said. “When [Mason] is out there playing aggressive, we’re at out best.”
The only other area of separation between to two came against top competition, where the numbers really fell in Mason’s favor. VanVleet scored more than 13 points against a ranked opponent in just one out of three games, whereas Mason did it three times in his last five games against a ranked team. Ultimately, the numbers balanced out throughout the year, but Mason did come into the tournament playing better basketball against better teams.
Simply put, overall, the two players and incredibly alike, and as far as debates between which is better, none of that will matter on Sunday. What matters is who performs when the lights are at their brightest in a one game playoff that will leave one team eliminated.
Will it be the sophomore from Petersburg, Virginia who inspired a rap before ever scoring a point in a Kansas uniform, or will it be the junior from Rockford, Illinois who has been a part of three NCAA Tournament runs, which have put Wichita State right back on the map?
Either way, it should be one heck of a matchup to watch. Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on pinterest_share More Sharing Services 0
1 image Anna Wenner/KANSAN
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@drgnslayr We have become an exceptional defensive team, and it will show tomorrow.
That was a pretty fair article on Mason and VanVleet.
@JayHawkFanToo I think key for KU, Mason scoring more against top teams. Anxious to see what Coach has up his sleeve, maybe some zone?
@Hawk8086 Personally, I don’t think Traylor is ever a good match up for us. It is a rare occasion that he is an advantage. But you’re right, I think Self could use him if Carter is too quick for Lucas. I doubt Lucas will have an issue because he won’t have to follow that screen. Carter isn’t a threat from outside. Lucas can sag off and look to help on the drive. But I’m with you on Oubre. He’s kind of the “one of these things is not like the other” on the floor. No one will match up with him. Personally, I were WSU, I’d shade Oubre and make Selden beat me.
@drgnslayr You’re right, NMSU wasn’t very good. What was with that zone? The pass to the middle was open all the time. I don’t understand the theory behind that defense.
My inclination is to think everyone will be “fresh” Sunday. All these guys are young. Can’t image anyone being worn out.
@BeddieKU23 Your first point is an excellent one. When we got up early, my daughter asked me “When do you think they’ll tie it up?” We’re all scarred by that stuff. But we did hold the lead convincingly.
@KUSTEVE We all hope you’re right.
Guy at ESPN doesn’t think so.
He’s an idiot (time for name calling). We’re better. We win by 6.
For the record I heard JNewells podcast the other day and he thought WSU would beat us too! Of course we could boycott him.
@wissoxfan83 Now is not the time for logic, or numbers, or stuff like that. It’s all Jayhawks. It’s positive thinking. It’s faith. At this time of the year, I have a hard time being objective. That said, I do think we match up well. WSU is not the WSU of last season. No Cleanthony Early. That’s a different team. They lost to George Washington and Illinois St. Lots of things that could happen to result in a KU loss … this is Self’s moment to shine.
KU - 4th game in 10 days.
WSU - 2nd game in 15 days.
With a season behind and some players dealing with injuries, fatigue could have an impact.
Jay wright going down! Go Mario! Hopefully!
Hopefully this will give the talking heads something to talk about other than how bad the Big 12 is and how WSU will beat KU
@JayHawkFanToo I read a study on that and there was no difference.
@JayHawkFanToo and a rivalry!
@JayHawkFanToo Actually, 5th game in 11 days as well.
But really, we had five full days of rest between games. So no, because of that, I don’t think fatigue is any factor at all. Their bodies have had more than enough time to recover from three games in a row.
I’m hopeful that no one is getting excuses staged and ready. Excuses won’t needed. We’re kicking WSU’s ass tomorrow.
NC State – Barber and Lacey starting guards. We were both guys’ second choices. Lacey went to 'Bama and then transferred to NC State. We could have Barber/Lacey starting now instead of Mason/Selden. Interesting how things work out.
@Crimsonorblue22 I knew Nova would be the first 1 seed out. Dook should be next.
Am I missing something? WSU last game before Indiana was a loss to Illinois State on March 7…did I miss games in between?
I like our overall matches against WSU. I’ll not go into numbers because we’ve already learned that numbers mean pretty much nothing. But, man for man, I think KU is the better team.
Mason/VanVleet/Graham - Mason should come out ready to play and have something to prove. This will be a huge game for him. It’s time to establish himself on the national scene as a pg. This game will be huge. Graham has to play within himself tomorrow.
Selden/Baker - Selden is way more athletic than Baker. Baker is a pure shooter, much like Green. I’d even take Green over Baker. Baker does have experience and doesn’t get rattled.
Oubre/Green/Cotton (?) - Again, Cotton has experience, but give athleticism to Oubre and Green.
Ellis/Wessel/Brown/Traylor (?) - Ellis should have a festive day. I’d even give Traylor the edge over Wessel and Brown.
Lucas/Carter - Lucas should be strong and after scrimmaging against Embiid, he should be the better of the two. I think with Alex out, Lucas has come into his own. I see him getting better as we move forward. I’d even throw in the Red Fury @KUSTEVE…This might be a great opportunity for Mickelson.
We have to play smart and with intensity. I thought IU did a great job pushing the ball against WSU. We need to gas them like IU. We should get a lot of high percentage quick shots. I thought Yogi Ferrell provided so much for Mason. He gave Mason a great blueprint at the pg.
@HighEliteMajor Barber and Lacey were the difference against Nova.