First off, hats off to Frank Martin and Kansas State. Missouri has three losses on the year, and two of them are to the Wildcats. Part of it is that the Wildcats have a big personnel advantage inside and are a great offensive rebounding team but Frank Martin did a great job coaching, whether it be managing the minutes of Angel Rodriguez, getting the ball to the rim, or telling his guys on a possession in the waning minutes that their opponent was taking the ball out of bounds with only a handful of seconds on the shot clock so you shouldn't foul them. (oh wait that was Frank Haith who did the exact opposite. Coach of the year!)
As for the Jayhawks, Bill Self will no doubt use Missouri's loss as a warning against looking passed Texas A&M. Fortunately, Texas A&M isn't good. While, like everyone, they are more dangerous at home, they are just 3-4 in Big 12 play in College Station. The chance to play spoiler and bullseye on Kansas's back has done weirder things, but the opportunity presented to the Jayhawks should override all that.
If you thought Texas Tech was a slow, ugly game, get ready for tonight. A&M is the slowest team in the league, with their games averaging just over 62 possessions. To further the ugliness, A&M is a decent defensive team, but down right offensive offensively (see what I did there?). A&M is 9th in the league in PPP at 93.2 points per 100 possessions in conference play, and 8th or worse in the following: turnover%, offensive rebounding%, FT Rate, 2 pt%, FT%, block%.
Obviously a big key to this upset, like any, is A&M taking and making a lot of threes. They have taken far more threes in conference play, ranking 4th in 3PA/FGA, than they have overall, where they rank 256th nationally, and this has corresponded with them shooting a bit better from behind the arc as well; 34.2% in conference play, 32.5% overall. Either way, they'll have to shoot 5-10% better than that (which is certainly possible) to have a chance in this one.
Unlike Tech, A&M has the size inside to frustrate Robinson and Withey a bit more, but while this has resulted in a good defensive rebounding rate, it hasn't elsewhere: A&M is 8th in the league at defending twos and they're not able to block many shots either.
This is one of those games that is impossible to analyze: Statistically it should be an easy Kansas win. KenPom gives us an 88% chance and has us winning by 12. But as we've seen this team seems far more comfortable being the underdog than the favorite, and they are in the driver's seat right now. Given that I prefer not to try to get inside the psyche of 18-23 year old kids, there isn't much left to say for this one. If Kansas shows up and plays well for even 20 minutes they'll win. If not a golden opportunity could slip through their fingers.
K State has given Kansas an incredible opportunity. With two wins this week they'll have a share of the Big 12 title for the 8th straight year. Now it's up to them to take advantage.