Beginning in September and active up until November 6th, the aboriginal day of the season, Academy Basketball Talk will be actualization the 2018-2019 NBCSports.com academy hoops examination package.
Every day at Noon ET, we will be absolution an all-embracing examination of one affiliate of our Preseason Top 25.
Today we dive into No. 11 Kansas State.
Bruce Weber entered the 2017-18 division on the hot bench and, frankly, annihilation about the way that the approved division played out afflicted that fact.
The Wildcats able the approved division at 21-10 all-embracing and 10-8 in the Big 12, earning themselves a bid to the NCAA clash in ample allotment due to the actuality that they exhausted up on the basal of a Big 12 that was actually deep; nine Big 12 teams were on the balloon appear Selection Sunday.
Kansas State absent all seven amateur they played adjoin the top three teams in the alliance — Kansas, West Virginia and Texas Tech. Their best non-conference win came adjoin a Georgia aggregation that accursed their arch coach. They didn’t exhausted a distinct Big 12 aggregation that able aloft .500 in alliance play.
Sneaking into the clash as a No. 9 berry seemed like a allowance awarded to the Wildcats because they played in a appointment that additional their computer numbers.
And again the NCAA clash happened.
Despite about arena afterwards Dean Wade, Kansas State agape off Creighton in the aboriginal round, concluded the Cinderella run of UMBC in the additional annular and again best off Kentucky in the Sweet 16 to get aural 40 account of the Final Four. Loyola-Chicago concluded that dream, but the expectations were set.
Kansas State allotment every distinct affiliate of a aggregation that won 25 amateur and played in the Aristocratic 8.
This will be the best highly-regarded aggregation that Weber has had entering a division in Manhattan.
And in a way, this may be the best accountability he’s anytime had to win.
This aggregation has the three apparatus that you attending for in a acceptable academy basketball team.
For starters, the Wildcats actually do accept acceptable bouncer play. Barry Brown is the name that you charge to know. A tough, 6-foot-3 advance guard, Brown is a 195-pound bowling brawl back he decides he wants to get to the rim. He is additionally a adamant apostle — he hounded Trae Young alert aftermost division — and was the abandoned man in a appointment that was actually ample at the point bouncer atom a year ago. If he learns how to achieve consistently threes, Brown will be a first-team all-Big 12 amateur this division and a abeyant additional annular aces in June.
Kamau Stokes will advice to abate the playmaking amount on Brown, and he is additionally a advocate offensively, a activating scorer that can pop off for 25 points. Xavier Sneed and Cartier Diarra are floor-spacers and able wings that are boxy abundant to let the Wildcats comedy super-small at times. Throw in Mike McGuirl — a green that austere his redshirt back Stokes was afflicted aftermost division alone to bead 17 credibility on Creighton in the aboriginal annular of the NCAA clash — and the Wildcats accept a ton of bouncer depth.
And the best allotment about all that bouncer abyss is that they all can defend. As a team, the Wildcats able 21st nationally in KenPom’s adapted arresting ability metric. They get dead on the bottle — that’s what happens back you comedy four guys that are 6-foot-5 or beneath for continued account — but they achieve up for it by active teams off of the three-point band and banishment turnovers with their brawl pressure.
So we accept a aggregation with actually acceptable bouncer comedy that can actually defend.
The aftermost allotment of the puzzle?
This is not a name that abounding bodies nationally are activity to be all that accustomed with. He saw bound account in Kansas State’s clash run afterwards adversity a bottom abrasion in the Big 12 clash quarterfinals, and he spent aftermost division arena in a alliance area he was in the adumbration of Kansas, Trae Young, Press Virginia and Texas Tech’s rise. But this kid can play. He’s 6-foot-10 but shoots 44 percent from three. He can canyon the ball, he can move afterwards the brawl and he can comedy the four or the five. If you don’t appetite to accept me, this is what Mo Bamba had to say about him:
“I’d say one of the toughest players that I played adjoin as far as aloof scouting, like, this was the aboriginal amateur that I looked at as far as tendencies and seeing what he does, is [Kansas State’s] Dean Wade. I’m not abiding if you guys are accustomed with him, but he’s actually good. He’s cool talented. He’s about 6-9 but can actually move, and it was a claiming defensively.”
I like it back the dots connect, and, on this Kansas State team, all the dots connect.
It’s adamantine to see them actuality a absolute apprehension this year.
Outside of those three wins in March, Kansas State did annihilation that would advance us to accept that they are activity to be acceptable abundant to be a top 10-15 aggregation in academy basketball this season.
They absent seven amateur to Kansas, West Virginia and Texas Tech aftermost division by an boilerplate of 16 points. Their alone win over a Big 12 aggregation that able .500 in alliance comedy came back they exhausted TCU at home, and alike that may not technically count; the Horned Frogs went 9-9 in the approved division and again absent their Big 12 clash opener to Kansas State, bottomward them to 9-10 adjoin alliance foes on the year.
The Wildcats exhausted Georgia during the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, and that came aloof two months afore Georgia accursed arch drillmaster Mark Fox. They exhausted Vanderbilt and Washington State. The best affair you can say about Kansas State’s approved division is that they didn’t lose at home adjoin anyone alfresco of the top three in the league, and they managed to aces off Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma State and Iowa State on the road.
Which is fine.
In a year area the Big 12 was as abysmal as it was, that’s abundant to get into the NCAA tournament.
But if the Wildcats hadn’t avant-garde to the Aristocratic 8 — hell, if they had absent to Kentucky in the Sweet 16, capping their clash run at wins over a No. 8 and a No. 16 berry — I’m not abiding they’d accept the advertising they currently accept branch into this division …
… which is why the x-factor for Kansas State isn’t so abundant what they are able of but rather how they will handle the accountability that comes with actuality targeted.
There are three or four names that can achieve the affirmation of actuality the second-best aggregation in the Big 12 this season, and Kansas State — forth with West Virginia, TCU and maybe alike Iowa State — are appropriate there in the mix. They are activity to access the division with a actual aerial baronial aing to their name. Every d they play, from their opener adjoin Kennesaw State to their cruise to the Paradise Jam to a appointment to Marquette to a d adjoin Kansas in the Octagon of Doom, will be one of, if not the better d that their adversary is activity to play.
We’ve apparent teams attempt with this before.
Just aftermost season, Northwestern followed up their first-ever cruise to the NCAA clash with a preseason top 20 baronial and a adverse division that larboard them absolutely extraneous by the time that Thanksgiving formed around.
There’s addition ancillary of this as well.
Bruce Weber is an underrated coach. He gets a lot of stick for what he’s been able to achieve back he accustomed in Manhattan, and I don’t anticipate that it is absolutely warranted. This is additionally his seventh division at Kansas State, and the Wildcats accept yet to appear aing to analogous what he able in his aboriginal division — a 27-8 record, a 14-4 mark in the Big 12 and a No. 4 berry in the NCAA tournament. Prior to aftermost year’s Aristocratic 8 run, he had been to aloof two tournaments in the aftermost four years and was 0-3 in the Big Dance in his Kansas State tenure.
I say all that to say this: The accuracy is that a drillmaster never actually gets off of the hot seat. Once a fan abject decides that they appetite a drillmaster gone, that drillmaster is consistently one division — hell, one d — abroad from accepting bodies calling for his job. Ask Tom Crean about this.
Seeing how Weber will handle any disappoints, abnormally those that appear aboriginal in the season, will be fascinating. The Kansas State fanbase is actual able-bodied acquainted of the actuality that missing out on BradUnderwood, an alum and a above Frank Martin abettor that has alert afflicted jobs in the aftermost 30 months, may beggarly missing out on an aristocratic arch drillmaster that would accept a acumen to wind bottomward his career with them.
The advertising for this Kansas State aggregation is actual absolute — we accept them 11th nationally, and that acceptable won’t be an outlier — alike if there is a adventitious the aggregation may not be.
What will appear if the Wildcats end up actuality afterpiece to a ambiguous top 25 aggregation than a ambiguous top 10 team? Will Weber be able to get this aggregation to abide to accomplish if they don’t alive up to expectations they had no allotment in creating?
And will that end up actuality his ultimate downfall?
Kansas State is one of the best absorbing teams to chase this season.
I anticipate Kansas State will be aloof fine.
They ability not end up actuality the second-best aggregation in the Big 12, but I don’t see anyhow they aren’t appropriate there with the two or three teams that are block Kansas. They ability not end up actuality a top two or three berry branch into the NCAA tournament, but I accept a adamantine aggregation seeing them abatement accomplished the No. 5-seed line.
This is a adept accumulation with March acquaintance that defends, that has boxy guards and that has two first-team all-Big 12-caliber players, including a abeyant all-american in Dean Wade.
There attic is absolutely high, alike if there isn’t necessarily a Final Four-ceiling with this group.
No. 12 Virginia TechNo. 13 Michigan StateNo. 14 Florida StateNo. 15 TCUNo. 16 UCLANo. 17 West VirginiaNo. 18 OregonNo. 19 SyracuseNo. 20 LSUNo. 21 Mississippi StateNo. 22 ClemsonNo. 23 MichiganNo. 24 N.C. StateNo. 25 Marquette
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