With the final set of “Third Round” games finishing up Sunday night, it’s time for the Sweet 16. As we do every year, we will have in-depth previews of each Sweet 16 and Elite 8 matchup this weekend.
In this post, we preview the Midwest Region Sweet 16 matchup between #2 seed Kansas and #11 seed NC State.
Kansas-NC State Sweet 16 Game Info
- Seeds & Region: #2 Kansas v #11 NC State in Midwest Region
- Kansas-NC State Date: Friday, 3/23
- Kansas-NC State Tip Time: TBA
- Kansas-NC State Location: St. Louis
- Kansas-NC State TV: TBA
- Kansas-NC State Announcers: TBA
- Kansas-NC State Point Spread: TBA
- Tickets: Midwest Regional Tickets in St. Louis
Kansas-NC State Analysis and Prediction
Outside of Ohio University, North Carolina State is the most surprising Sweet Sixteen squad, and they will look to pull a third straight upset in St. Louis against Kansas. On Sunday, the Wolfpack knocked off Georgetown by three points, as four players scored at least 12 points. Lorenzo Brown had a strong all-around game with 12 points, seven assists, and six rebounds in the win. Kansas trailed Purdue for most of the game but scored the last four points to escape with a three-point victory. Elijah Johnson led KU with 18 points and made a number of huge plays down the stretch.
Based on the numbers, Kansas would appear to have the advantage on both ends of the floor. They rank in the Top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, while the Wolfpack are outside of the Top 30 in both.
Offensively, the Jayhawks are in the Top 10 in two-point shooting and in the Top 15 in effective field goal percentage, while NC State is just inside of the Top 100 in effective field goal percentage defense. Given the number of big bodies the Wolfpack have inside, it’s surprising their numbers aren’t better, but they should take a long look at the way Purdue defended Thomas Robinson inside. They essentially dared other players to beat them and focused tons of attention (and defenders) on Robinson, holding him to 2-of-12 shooting and really frustrating him inside.
Kansas has also posted a strong free throw rate this season, but North Carolina State has done a decent of job keeping their opponents off the stripe. That won’t be easy against Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor, and even Jeff Withey, all of whom have free throw rates over 45 this season.
The matchup on the offensive glass looks to be even, although obviously keeping Robinson off the glass is no easy task. The Jayhawks have had turnover issues at times this year, but NC State doesn’t force them at a high rate either.
On the other end of the floor, the Wolfpack’s strength is a high offensive rebounding percentage thanks to the efforts of Richard Howell, DeShawn Painter, and C.J. Leslie. Kansas is strong on the defensive glass though, so second chance points (or a lack thereof) will play a role in the outcome of this one.
The other key factor will be NC State’s shooting. Thanks to the shot-blocking prowess of Robinson and Withey, the Jayhawks hold their opponents to sub-40 percent shooting on two-pointers, while the Wolfpack make over 50 percent inside the arc. Outside of Scott Wood, North Carolina State doesn’t shoot it all that well from deep, but Kansas isn’t nearly as tough at defending the three.
Foul trouble could loom large here, as neither team is particularly deep. When they are at full strength though, you have to love some of the individual matchups. Up front, you have Robinson and Withey versus Howell, Leslie, and Painter, and in the backcourt you have two guys who lead their teams in assists but can also put points on the board in Tyshawn Taylor and Lorenzo Brown.
While the numbers all seem to point to Kansas, NC State is easily playing its best basketball of the season at exactly the right time. Still, the Jayhawks found a way to survive against Purdue despite not playing their best basketball, and ultimately I think their defensive ability is the difference here.
Predicted Winner: Kansas
Kansas Jayhawks Team Capsule
- Conference: Big 12
- Record: 27-6 (16-2 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 9-1
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 12-6
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Baylor (2), Georgetown, Iowa State, Kansas State (2), Long Beach State, Missouri, Ohio State, South Florida, Texas (2)
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Baylor, Davidson, Duke, Iowa State, Kentucky, Missouri
- Player to Watch: Thomas Robinson (6’9” F, Jr.) – 17.9 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 1.1 spg, 1.0 bpg, 53.1 FG%
Kansas Bottoms Line:
Despite losing a number of key contributors from last season’s team, the Jayhawks refused to relinquish their stranglehold on the Big 12 and won the league by two full games.
Player of the Year candidate Thomas Robinson is a double-double machine who is relentless on both ends of the floor. His 31.6 defensive rebounding percentage is the best in the country, and he has proved adept at getting opposing defenders into foul trouble. The other key offensive weapon is guard Tyshawn Taylor, who averages 17.3 points and a team-high 4.8 assists while hitting 43.5 percent from deep. Center Jeff Withey has come up big for the Jayhawks on multiple occasions and always impacts the game with his rebounding and shot-blocking prowess.
Overall, Kansas ranks in the Top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and their two-point shooting and two-point defense are also among the nation’s best. They have also done a solid job of getting to the line and competing on the glass.
NC State Wolfpack Team Capsule
- Conference: ACC
- Record: 22-12 (9-7 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 5-5
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 3-8
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Texas, UNC-Asheville, Virginia
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Duke, Florida State, Indiana, North Carolina (3), Syracuse, Vanderbilt
- Player to Watch: C.J. Leslie (6’8” F, So.) – 14.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.1 spg, 1.6 bpg, 53.2 FG%
NC State Bottoms Line:
The Wolfpack snuck into the tournament with a decent showing in the ACC Tournament, which is an impressive achievement in Mark Gottfried’s first year at the helm.
Five players score at least 10.6 points per game, which isn’t necessarily surprising since the team plays only seven guys in most contests. C.J. Leslie is an explosive athlete, who has played extremely well down the stretch. He boasts strong rebounding percentages on both ends of the floor, blocks shots at a high rate, and does a great job of getting to the free throw line.
He’s joined up front by Richard Howell, who nearly averages a double-double with 10.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game and ranks in the Top 75 in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. Point guard Lorenzo Brown does a little of everything with 12.7 points, 6.4 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.8 steals. On the perimeter, N.C. State also has sharpshooter Scott Wood, who shoots over 41 percent from three-point range and over 91 percent from the line.
The Wolpfack finished 33rd in adjusted offensive efficiency, with their impressive performance on the offensive boards a big reason why. They don’t get to the line a ton, but their other offensive numbers are all above average. On the defensive end, they don’t force many turnovers but still managed to finish 75th in adjusted efficiency.
Midwest Region Bracket, TV Schedule, Sites, Announcers, Spreads
|Vermont def Lamar 71-59||Wed, 3/15||6:40 ET||Dayton||Eagle-Spanarkel||truTV||LAM -3|
|Cal v South Florida||Wed, 3/15||9:05 ET||Dayon||Eagle-Spanarkel||truTV||CAL -2.5|
|1||#1 North Carolina def #16 Vermont 77-58||Fri, 3/16||4:05 ET||Greensboro||Nantz-Kellogg||TBS||TBA|
|2||#8 Creighton def #9 Alabama 58-57||Fri, 3/16||1:40 ET||Greensboro||Nantz-Kellogg||TBS||ALA -1.5|
|3||#13 Ohio def #4 Michigan 65-60||Fri, 3/16||7:30 ET||Nashville||Eagle-Spanarkel||TNT||MICH -6|
|4||#12 South Florida def #5 Temple 58-44||Fri, 3/16||9:55 ET||Nashville||Eagle-Spanarkel||TNT||TBA|
|5||#2 Kansas def #15 Detroit 65-50||Fri, 3/16||9:52 ET||Omaha||Albert-Kerr-Sager||truTV||KU -15|
|6||#10 Purdue def #7 St. Mary's 72-59||Fri, 3/16||7:27 ET||Omaha||Albert-Kerr-Sager||truTV||PU -2|
|7||#3 Georgetown def #14 Belmont 74-59||Fri, 3/16||3:05 ET||Columbus||Brando-Gminski||truTV||GU -3.5|
|8||#11 NC State def #6 San Diego State 79-65||Fri, 3/16||12:40 ET||Columbus||Brando-Gminski||truTV||NCST -1.5|
|9||#1 North Carolina def #8 Creighton 87-73||Sun, 3/18||5:15 ET||Greensboro||Nantz-Kellogg||CBS|
|10||#13 Ohio def #12 South Florida 62-56||Sun, 3/18||7:10 ET||Nashville||Eagle-Spanarkel||TBS|
|11||#2 Kansas def #10 Purdue 63-60||Sun, 3/18||8:40 ET||Omaha||Albert-Kerr-Sager||TNT|
|12||#11 NC State def #3 Georgetown 66-63||Sun, 3/18||12:15 ET||Columbus||Brando-Gminski||CBS|
|13||#1 North Carolina v #13 Ohio||Fri, 3/23||St. Louis||UNC -10.5|
|14||#2 Kansas v #11 NC State||Fri, 3/23||St. Louis||KU -8|
|ELITE 8 - REGIONAL FINAL|
|15||Game 13 Winner v Game 14 Winner||Sun, 3/23||St. Louis|