The Kansas Jayhawks have moved up to no. 3 in the latest AP poll and actually sit even higher at no. 2 in the most recent coaches poll following Saturday's escape in Austin. Despite a sometimes sluggish offense in recent weeks the Jayhawks have found a way to win in games against Iowa State, Texas Tech, Baylor and Texas. That sets up a big matchup tomorrow night in Manhattan against the only other team unbeaten in Big 12 play, Kansas State.
For their part the Wildcats are now up to no. 11 in the country under first year head coach Bruce Weber and they will most certainly be ready for the Jayhawk's on Tuesday. In recent years the Wildcats have improved a great deal as a program and the game in Manhattan has become a much more competitive contest than it once was. Tuesday will likely be another slugfest and Kansas cannot afford to come out slow and play with the same energy level that they did in Austin.
Kansas State is the Big 12's only other undefeated team in league play with wins at home over Oklahoma State and Oklahoma and road wins over West Virginia and TCU. This will mark the first meeting between Bill Self and Bruce Weber as rival coaches and whoever wins will have the early leg up in the Big 12 race. Kansas State, along with Oklahoma State and perhaps Iowa State have been mentioned as possible challengers to the Jayhawks as they chase their ninth consecutive league title. A win is probably necessary for the Wildcats if they want to be considered a true challenger.
Given the way Kansas has played offensively since Temple, one might think this is a game where the Jayhawks are very likely to stumble. On the other hand, if Kansas find a way to go on the road and win over a top 15 school and one of the main challengers, the Jayhawks have to feel pretty good about the direction of the season. That won't be an easy task in Manhattan and while the Jayhawks certainly win more than they lose against Kansas State, the Jayhawks will need to figure out what has been ailing the offense in order to make this a successful road trip.
What's the saddest part of all of this? It's not nationally televised. ESPN in their infinite wisdom has put this one on ESPN3. That means you'll need access to a Big 12 Network or a local JayhawkTV feed if you aren't privy to ESPN3 on your computer. Most likely ESPN wasn't predicting either team to be playing at this level, but both schools have exceeded expectations this year to one extent or another.
Kansas fans were searching for a new PRIMARY rival after the departure of Missouri and everyone has said that rival should be Kansas State. These are the kinds of matchups that can build on what was already there.