The beginning of the Big 12 tournament brings us a familiar foe: The Kansas State Wildcats. To help prepare us for the game, I reached out to Brandon (aka KSUEMAW!) over on Bring on the Cats, the SB Nation site covering KSU. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
RCT: Last year, KSU was on the wrong side of the NIT bubble, as they lost to TCU in the first round of the Big 12 tournament and finished with a losing record (15-17) overall. This year, they are in a similar situation to last year, but instead are guaranteed to finish over .500. What prospects do you give them for making a postseason tournament, and do they need a win against the Jayhawks to get there?
BOTC: I think the consensus around Wildcat land was last night's OSU game was the make or break game for the NIT. Win and you feel pretty good about the chances of getting in, lose and well maybe there's a pay to play tourney that doesn't cost to much. Fortunately the Wildcats found a way to win yesterday, even if they did try and save Travis Ford's Oklahoma State career by blowing a big halftime lead. Even if the Wildcats do get blown out this afternoon, I don't think it damages their NIT hopes much.
RCT: The Wildcats haven't been able to figure out the Jayhawks in either of their two meetings this year. What can they learn from those two games that might help them this time around?
BOTC: I think K-State did some good things against the Jayhawks in their first game at Allen Fieldhouse. They didn't let the early game run completely derail them and they played aggressive defense. That trend continued in Bramlage as they showed fight in coming back from a big first half defecit. The biggest key in winning today will be showing that same fight and shooting the ball better. The last couple games the Wildcats have shot a little better than average and if they want to pull the upset they need to shoot the ball like they did in their upset victory against OU.
RCT: There has been some discussion around the idea that the conference tournament doesn't really mean much to Bill Self and Kansas. How much credibility do you give to this idea, and if so, could a lack of motivation be a problem for the top seed?
BOTC: Winning matters to Bill Self. Period. So the idea that a conference title doesn't mean much to him is silly to me. I respect the hell out of Bill Self even if I can't stand the school he coaches and I don't see any way that KU suffers from a motivational problem while he's sitting on their bench.
RCT: I asked this the last time around, but I'm curious as to how the last few weeks might have changed your opinion. How hot is Bruce Weber's coaching seat? Does he need to beat the Jayhawks to be confident for next year?
BOTC: I'm probably not the right guy to be asking this question as I've never been on board with the Weber hire. However, Bruce is getting another year at K-State at a minimum. He's got a solid young core of Barry Brown, Dean Wade, and Kamau Stokes, and he returns veterans Wesley Iwundu and D.J. Johnson. That's a solid starting five and if some of the recruits he brings in develop K-State should be an NCAA team next season. If the 'Cats miss the tournament next year, that's when Bruce's seat will start to become extremely hot.
RCT: Prediction time. Can Kansas State pick up a marquee win and keep the Jayhawks from their first conference tournament title since 2013?
BOTC: With it being March 10th there is always a chance something crazy could happen, but the odds of K-State picking up a victory today are pretty small. K-State still hasn't found any consistency from three point land, and they go through huge stretches where they can't hit anything from the field. All that gives me very little hope of an upset, so I'll say KU 82- KSU 65.
RCT: Bonus - Last year we went on a tournament potluck picnic, and it was so great that I decided to do it again. What food item would you bring to represent your school or the region where it is located?
BOTC: If you've never had Call Hall ice cream then you are doing life wrong. Call Hall is easily the best ice cream I've ever tasted and it's made on K-State's campus in, you guessed it, Call Hall. So, I'm bringing a couple pints of Call Hall's vanilla ice cream, and some Tallgrass Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat Stout. You can eat/drink them separately if you'd like, but if you're feeling adventurous make you're self a beer float and enjoy a little slice of heaven.
A big thanks to Brandon for taking some time on a quick turnaround to chat with use about the game today. Don’t forget to check out the questions I answered for him over on BOTC, which I’ll link to once they go up.