The Kansas State Wildcats Begin Tourney Against The Kentucky Wildcats


Mar 1, 2014; Manhattan, KS, USA; Kansas State Wildcats guard Shane Southwell (1) blocks out Iowa State Cyclones forward Dustin Hogue (22) during the Wildcat

The time is here: March Madness!

The Kansas State Wildcats (20-12, 10-8) have made it into the NCAA Tournament for a school record 5th consecutive year, but will have an extremely difficult time advancing past their opening game. As a #9 seed the Wildcats face the #8 seed Kentucky Wildcats (22-9, 12-6) and of course everyone knows that coach John Calipari always has talented freshman making up his teams, this year having Julius Randle and company.

This game hits close to home as Kentucky’s famous head coach, Adoph Rupp, was from my hometown and my uncle is a Kentucky alumnus as well. He’s also a coach at Kansas State so he’s surely to be torn. Even more, Kansas State’s Wesley Iwundu will be facing two of his Houston Defenders AAU teammates, freshman twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Jr. that make up Kentucky’s backcourt. Also, Kentucky sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein hails from Olathe, Kansas and nearly signed to play for Kansas State before eventually choosing to put on a blue Wildcats jersey.

Kentucky is 3-6 against tournament teams this season and 4-6 in the top-100 teams which gives Kansas State some hope since Kentucky clearly struggles against good teams, though Kansas State is only 7-8 against tournament teams. In short, this is one of the harder matchups in the tournament this year to pick because of the inconsistency of both teams throughout the season.

Here is all the information you need to catch the game:

Who: Kentucky Wildcats (Southeastern Conference)

Keys to the Game:

1: Julius Randle: The star freshman is clearly Kentucky’s best player, and averages a double-double with 15.3 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. Keeping him off the boards is key, especially the offensive boards where he has 119 on the season, which is 50 more than any Kansas State player. K-State has done well against star players this season for the most part. They will surely have a solid defensive plan to keep Randle’s scoring in check but K-State has trouble rebounding at times and won’t be able to keep Randle from easy shots if he starts racking up the offensive rebounds. Kentucky has an extremely solid offense but they don’t shoot well from the outside, so any second chance points they have are going to really hurt K-State’s chances.

Mar 13, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas State Wildcats forward Thomas Gipson (42) shoots as Iowa State Cyclones forward Daniel Edozie (42) defends during the first half in the second round of the Big 12 Conference college basketball tournament at Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

2. Outside Shooting: Kentucky blocks over six shots per game, good for 8th in the nation, and are loaded with size. Willie Cauley-Stein, standing at 7’0, averages 3 of those blocks each game and Kansas State will have a tough time making shots inside. Kansas State has struggled making contested layups, and sometimes even open ones, all season long and that doesn’t bode well in this game where every shot is going to be contested. Good ball movement will be key to getting the big men of Kentucky moving around so that Thomas Gipson and company can get a little more space on the inside.

Also, K-State will need to be shooting well from the outside if they hope to keep Kentucky’s defense spread out on the floor and to get much needed points should it become a block party on the inside. Driving in and forcing help defense, and then finding a way to get the ball to another K-State player on the inside, or drawing some fouls on the big men early will help increase Kansas State’s offensive options immensely.

3. It’s a New Season: Kansas State absolutely has to block out the rest of March and look at the NCAA Tournament as the old one-game-at-a-time scenario. K-State has gone 1-4 since turning to March, and lost it’s last three games, albeit against extremely strong opponents and three of the hottest teams in the country, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, and Baylor.

The Baylor and Iowa State losses were tough losses that Kansas State could have won if one or two plays had went their way. K-State’s 2-7 road record, and 3-3 neutral court records don’t give much hope but the young purple Wildcats will need to delete those statistics from their minds and head to St. Louis focused and confident. Kentucky should be the only team on their mind as well, and not the possible Sunflower state matchup against Wichita State in the next round.

Where: Scottrade Center

St. Louis, Missouri

When: 8:40 PM CT

Friday, March 21st

Television: CBS

Radio: K-State Sports Network