Last year’s SEC/Big 12 Challenge saw Baylor and Alabama play a tight game of reasonably uptempo offense. The year before was magical: Oklahoma at Alabama, both teams running and gunning, John Petty taking over in Coleman, the epic Trae Young vs. Collin Sexton duel. And a huge ‘Bama win, to boot!
But, hey, you say you want to see some diametrically opposing offenses for a change, eh? Well, this year’s Challenge gives it to you. The Ents of Kansas State will travel to Tuscaloosa to face the elebenty wing shooters that Nate Oats’ Alabama squad will roll out.
There could not be two more different philosophies, either: Bruce Weber runs a motion offense that works the inside. The ‘Cats prefer to control the tempo and take high-percentage shots. It may be generously called — like Anthony Grant’s #grantsketball — a deliberate style of play.
But, it’s okay to be honest around here. You’re among friends: it is a glacial, dull sort of hoops. Meanwhile, Nate Oats likes to push the floor, work the wings, make the extra pass, get points in transition.
How contrasting are these styles of play, you ask? Last year, Kansas State was 343rd in pace of play — just ten spots above the notoriously pokey Virginia Cavaliers, who were dead last in the country at 353rd (that didn’t hurt them though. Having the No. 1 defense helps. Who knew?!) Meanwhile, Oats’ UB Bulls were 13th in the nation and averaged 11 more possessions per game than did EMAW.
Scoring? Not even a contest. K State was 309th at 66 points per game. Buffalo was 5th, with 84 points-per.
Efficiency? Kansas State had improved...to 205th. Buffalo was 15th.
Rebounding Percentage? For such a long team, the Wildcats didn’t even particularly get after it on the glass — they were 128th. Buffalo was 56th.
By almost any metric, if Alabama can force its game and play some solid interior defense, the Tide has a good chance to run the Wildcats out of the building. In fact, I’m calling for that to happen right now, on July 24th, the Year of Our Oats, 2019.
So, here’s the rest of the lineup, and the full story is linked above.
That UK-TTU game should be super physical...and probably played the 40s. Tennessee and Kansas will likely be an uptempo affair, despite the rebuild both teams face. Okie State vs. Buzz’s new Aggies team sounds interesting too. And, for those that wanted Steve Prohm, we can check out a proxy Iron Bowl of sorts when the Cyclones travel to Auburn.
• Kentucky at Texas Tech
• Tennessee at Kansas
• Baylor at Florida
• Mississippi State at Oklahoma
• Missouri at West Virginia
• Oklahoma St at Texas A&M
• LSU at Texas
• Iowa St at Auburn
• TCU at Arkansas
Okay, what catches your eye? Does the matchup excite you? Who would you have rather played, if not K-State?