It’s been a great hoops season in the state of Kansas, with all three of the state’s DI teams battling for league titles and national rankings. But as of right now, there can be no debate. The best team in the Sunflower State is the Kansas State Wildcats.
K-State dumped a tough, rangy Iowa State team by a score of 79-70 on Saturday evening, moving to 8-2 in league play and sole possession of first place in the Big 12. Bruce Weber’s Wildcats are getting it done with Rodney McGruder’s star power and a solid supporting cast that makes ball control a way of life.
They’ll put those skills to the ultimate test on Monday, as they travel to Allen Fieldhouse and attempt to hand Kansas a fourth-straight loss, which would solidify K-State’s hold on the league lead in a very emphatic and regionally satisfying way. After Monday’s game, the Wildcats have six straight games against unranked foes before ending the season with a trip to current No. 22 Oklahoma State.
Kansas has won the last eight regular-season Big 12 titles, but Kansas State’s well-timed victory over Iowa State, and a chance to sit in the driver’s seat in the league race means more than just local bragging rights. K-State has never won the Big 12. In fact, the last time they won a league title was in 1977, when it was still the Big 8.
The Wildcats can stay on track against a very vulnerable KU team on Monday by doing exactly what they did against Iowa State. K-State shot 50 percent overall as well as 50 percent from behind the arc. Four players – McGruder (22), Angel Rodriguez (20), Thomas Gipson (16) and Martavious Irving (10) – scored in double figures, and the team as a whole shot over 80 percent from the line.
The sudden change from Frank Martin to Bruce Weber was jarring for K-State fans. Eight years of watching in-state rival Kansas win the league title was frustrating, and the long, long time without a title of any kind has to be downright galling.
All of that can be washed away. The Wildcats have rarely had a better chance than they do right now.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.