Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Preview: Kansas vs. St. Joseph's

Having seen only the results of their first four games and not a minute of live action, St. Joseph’s appears to be the sort of team that should be expected to give the young Kansas team problems. In their four games (a 70-47 win at home against Lafayette, a 72-41 win at Fairfield, a 100-94 overtime loss at Davidson, and a 69-59 win over Drexel at the Palestra), St. Joseph’s has been very efficient offensively (1.18 points per possession) while playing at a slow pace (62 possession per game). Kansas has already lost two close games to teams who were able to execute better in the half-court, and neither Arkansas nor Nevada played with such extreme, slow efficiency.

It will be incumbent upon the Jayhawks to get close to 70 possessions if they’re going to win the game. It’s a plausible goal. St. Joseph’s are somewhat less efficient than their gaudy shooting numbers (51.7% on two-point field goals, 45.5% on three-point field goals, and 84.8% from the free throw line) would suggest because they have demonstrated a propensity for committing turnovers. Though St. Joseph’s and Kansas have both turned the ball over on 22% of their offensive possessions so far this season, but Kansas’ mean turnover percentage is much greater than its median (19%) because the outlier is the Arizona game, St. Joe’s mean is lower than their median (24%) because their outlier is the Davidson game where they only turned the ball over on 10.9% of their possessions.

Kansas should be able to force more turnovers than they commit. They will almost certainly shoot lower percentages from the floor and the line than St. Joseph’s. As always, Kansas could make things much easier on themselves by limiting St. Joe’s offensive rebounds and keeping them off the free throw line. I don’t know how difficult it will be to do those things. St. Joseph’s level of competition has been marginal and their performances in those areas have been varied.

In even more of a guess than usual, I’ll predict that the game alternates stretches of the half-court game St. Joseph’s plays best with bursts of Kansas scoring in transition (length of said bursts to be heavily determined by the number of minutes Mario Chalmers plays effectively).

Prediction: first team to 65, wins.

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