A wounded Kansas State program that has been reeling welcomes in its archrival in what is no doubt the Wildcats' super bowl. It could be a season saving win for the Wildcats or potentially the last hurdle for a Kansas team that has all of a sudden sputtered a bit en route to 11.
On the surface of things, Kansas State doesn't do a lot that would bother the Jayhawks. They're second in the league, and fourth nationally, at getting to the free throw line, but that was relatively even in Allen Fieldhouse and the Wildcats aren't going to spring the upset merely by getting to the line.
If the Wildcats do win, it will have to be behind the arc. Kansas State takes even fewer threes than Kansas does, attempting just 24 percent of its shots beyond the arc in Big 12 play. They're also shooting just 31.5 percent from three in league play. They could pull a West Virginia, but I am going to bet against lightning striking twice.
Elsewhere offensively, Kansas State ranks 8th in 2pt%, 8th in turnover percentage, and 5th in offensive rebounding. They also rank 8th in 2pt% allowed, so the Jayhawks should be fine on both ends of the court inside the arc.
Kansas has struggled to rebound and struggled to force turnovers, so I expect a slow, half court game that doesn't feature a lot of turnovers. That is exactly what Kansas State will want, as the reduction of possessions will allow variance to come into play more, and the lack of turnovers will give Kansas State a better chance of getting hot from outside, or Kansas a better shot of getting cold from outside, and potentially sneaking the upset.
Individually, the main guy to worry about is Marcus Foster. Attitude problems aside he's shooting 37.5 percent from three this season (though it's worth noting he is just 27.9 percent from three in Big 12 play) and he gets to the line a lot. He has a chance to win a game by himself, though I expect Wayne Selden, Devonte Graham, and Kelly Oubre to wear him out as much as possible.
The other player to watch is Thomas Gipson. He's shooting just 46.5 percent from two in Big 12 play, but is 5th at getting to the line, and had 19 points on 7-13 shooting in Allen Fieldhouse.
If Kansas State can feed Gipson consistently, and Foster has a game like he did last year at home vs. Kansas, the Wildcats have a shot. But if not, it could get ugly in favor of the Jayhawks in what looked like a tough test at the beginning of the season.
Chris Huey robbed me of a cover (kidding, Chris) in the last game, and with the Jayhawks favored by 6.5 on the road I think the Wildcats will slow the game down enough and play with enough emotion at home to cover. I do think the Jayhawks squeak out a win though, 63-59.