On a night when their opponent misses a bunch of free throws and Curtis Stinson gets hot, the Cyclones can look fairly good. However, their method is not a recipe for consistent success.
I think everyone concedes that Kansas will have a tremendous advantage along the frontcourt, though Rahshon Clark is a far better player than he’s generally credited. Thus, I’ll spend my time today comparing the backcourts.
I’ll be using the players’ stats from conference play only. This is for simplicity’s sake. I’m not attempting to make any conclusions about any player’s true talent, just their production over a roughly equal period of time against roughly equal competition. It also helps that the two offenses have been equally productive in conference play. Kansas has averaged 1.09 points per possession (and 70 possessions per game) and Iowa State has averaged 1.10 points per possession (and 69.5 possessions per game).
First of all, Stinson and Blalock play a higher percentage of their team’s minutes than does the Jayhawk duo of Chalmers and Robinson.
Thus, even though the Jayhawk guards are more efficient than their Cyclone counterparts, they aren’t necessarily more productive:
Russell Robinson has a unique scoring profile. There are only two other players in the conference who play as much as Robinson and have a lower eFG%: Jason Horton and JamesOn Curry. In fact, there are only seven players, besides Robinson, who are permitted to play even half of their team’s minutes while shooting as poorly as Robinson from the field. Of those seven, Curry has the highest PPWS, 0.93. Robinson’s is 1.07. Why? They are 20 players in the Big 12 who have attempted a shot as often as has Robinson. Of those 20, Joseph Jones makes more free throws per shot attempt (FT Rate) than Robinson.
Russell Robinson has made only 25.9% of his three-point attempts and 44.4% of his two-point attempts and he’s still a league average scorer. With even a modest improvement in his shooting Robinson will become a dangerous all-around player.
The rest of Robinson’s game has already solidified into usefulness, as seen below.
However many more assists Chalmers and Robinson get from having quality big men who can (usually) finish, a luxury Stinson and Blalock certainly don’t posses, is countered by the assists that other Jayhawks earn. Stinson and Blalock have two teammates who average three or more assists per 100 possessions: Rahshon Clark (3.00) and Jiri Hubalek (3.33). Chalmers and Robinson have two teammates who average six or more assists per 100 possessions: Jeff Hawkins (6.50) and Julian Wright (6.05).
I see no reason to believe that Iowa State can expect to have an advantage in terms of backcourt play on Saturday, especially when you consider that Stinson and Blalock front a defense that allows 20% more points per game than Kansas. Nor do I have reason to believe that Iowa State's frontcourt is preparing for the game of their collective life.
Prediction: Kansas 84 Iowa State 72