Kansas v. Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas Preview


Rather than reading all about Texas A&M's fanbase, let's instead talk about how awful their basketball team is. Given as many first place votes in the preseason Big 12 poll as Kansas, A&M has been who I thought they would be. Namely, awful. They sit at 11-7 and 2-4 in Big 12 play, though they did just come up with a nice win over Oklahoma. But while A&M has been pretty good defensively, they are absolutely abysmal on offense, with an adjusted efficiency of 95.8, which ranks 248th nationally and is the big factor behind their rank of 130 in KenPom.

A&M's main culprit has been its point guard play. Dash Harris has a pretty good assist rate (26.9%) considering how awful his teammates are at shooting, but has just a 39.6% eFG himself, and no that's not a typo. He's shooting only 29.5% from three, which makes one wonder why he has taken the second most threes on the team (though that is a bit disingenuous given that A&M ranks 285th nationally in 3PA/FGA).

Khris Middleton was supposed to be A&M's all everything man, but has struggled a bit this year. His eFG is down to 45.4%, he's getting to the line about half as much as he did last year, and converting at just a 63% clip. Middleton is also getting pushed out further and further from the basket, with half of his shots being two point jumpers and just 15% of them being shots at the rim. Not good for a 6'7" forward.

Despite all their flaws, A&M is 8th nationally in eFG allowed, and has the 7th best three point defense in the country, allowing teams to shoot just 27.5% from deep. Given that they rank 23rd nationally in effective height you'd expect them to do better than they have in terms of two point defense. Given those numbers I would expect that it might be tough for Kansas to get a lot of penetration, but A&M will probably have to relax the pressure on the perimeter and there should be some three point opportunities there. With the way everyone except Taylor (and I think Releford, but don't quote me) have been shooting from three, it's probably the right call for the Aggies, but I doubt it matters.

Defensively Kansas's big challenge will be to not get tired from all of the jumping they have to do to corral rebounds, and to not steal the ball too much, lest they hurt A&M's feelings. About the only thing the Aggies do well offensively is not get their shots blocked, so it should be a fun challenge for Jeff Withey tonight.

KenPom predicts a 73-51 (in 66 possessions) Kansas win and gives the Jayhawks a 97% chance of victory. I hope Kansas will score a bit more than that given that it's at home, but this has the potential to be a KU-K State style rock fight.

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