Jayhawks vs. Wildcats tonight in Bramlage. The stakes couldn't be higher for a Kansas State team that once held a #3 ranking and the "preseason" Big 12 top spot. With a loss the Wildcats fall to 4-7 in the conference and 16-10 overall. That might mean they need to almost win out or come very close in order to secure an NCAA tournament bid.
For Kansas, it's a possible #1 ranking. When the polls are released later today the Jayhawks who sit 24-1 could very well find themselves in that top spot and a win in Manhattan keeps the Jayhawks in striking distance of the Longhorns for a seventh straight.
It's a rivalry. And this year was supposed to be a pair of games that pushed it to a competitive level with true implications on the line. Kansas has won 42 of the last 44 meetings between these two and the Jayhawks hold a 21-1 record in the building they play in tonight. A couple months back Jacob Pullen declared the Big 12 K-State's to lose. They've done a nice job of accomplishing that and now it's a game with implications the same as any other year.
At the same time Kansas State can salvage a lot tonight and the Wildcats will be ready as fans and players alike would love nothing more than to knock of a #1 ranked Jayhawk team at home. If you can't be the best, it sure helps to beat the best and that could very well happen tonight. All subtle or not so subtle jabs aside, I've got a feeling we're in for a tough one.
Since We Last Met
Since the last time these two teams have met not much has changed. Why? Well it's only been two weeks and the Wildcats have only played three times. Kansas State did destroy Nebraska at home which some felt might have signaled a turning the corner for a late run, but then the Wildcats squeaked out a last second win on the road against last place Iowa State. Not exactly a huge boost of confidence from that one.
Sitting 4-5 Kansas State has a big opportunity to swing the momentum with a revenge game in Boulder against Colorado. Things couldn't have set up better. The Buffs in foul trouble and completely inept offensively as Alec Burks found himself on the bench for much of the second half. Easy win right? Wrong, Kansas State was equally putrid on offense and ended up losing despite what appeared to be a last minute game winning three pointer.
While all this is going on, the team is once again facing rumors surrounding a senior "leader". Curtis Kelly, a preseason all conference player, was rumored to be facing a suspension due to some sort of team/NCAA violation. Reports surfaced of an appeal, which he "allegedly" won and all the while Frank Martin is pretty much burying his head in the sand and acting like nothing is happening. Are the reports completely false and fabricated? Not likely, but Frank says to go "ask your source".
Either way the Wildcats are a team facing some distractions once again and they are a team that is facing a pretty big must win situation here against Kansas. Their backs are against the wall and while the season has been a bit of a disaster, Kansas State should put up a pretty big fight tonight if they're worthy of any consideration as an NCAA tournament team.
81st / 7th
93rd / 4th
20th / 2nd
196th / 12th
110th / 7th
36th / 4th
35th / 2nd
127th / 12th
Jacob Pullen continues to be the one go to player for the Wildcats as he scored the game winner against Iowa State in Ames and actually knocked down a three pointer that would have sent the Colorado game to overtime however Frank Martin had just a second earlier called a timeout.
Obviously since these two teams last met the biggest difference on the roster for Kansas State is the departure of Wally Judge. Judge played substantial minutes in Lawrence before departing Manhattan for greener pastures. That leaves an interior of Jamar Samuels, Jordan Henriquez Roberts and the gift that keeps on giving, Curtis Kelly.
I really believe this one is going to be a tough one. Kansas State is backed up against a wall and in that situation, with their home crowd behind them; you'd expect them to put up a fight.
Jacob Pullen, Rodney McGruder and Jamar Samuels need to have big games. Curtis Kelly needs to be a presence on some level and for my money Will Spradling is going to have to find a way to be the Wildcat version of Brady Morningstar for Kansas State to get a win.
Kansas is still down two with both Josh Selby and now Thomas Robinson not expected to play. That helps the Wildcat cause. Kansas needs the Morris twins to assert themselves while getting a key contribution off the bench or from one of the Kansans to feel comfortable in this one. The Jayhawks have been steamrolling through since the loss to Texas. Now it's time to see how they respond as either the #1 team or the team that was passed over as the #1 team in the polls.