Tonight, the Kansas State Wildcats will welcome the Texas Longhorns into Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats are on a two game losing streak, while Texas is looking uncharacteristically vulnerable. This is a big game for Kansas State. If they win, they are comfortably back into the NCAA tournament conversation. If they lose, they are on the bubble. As for Texas, they are having a bit of a rebuilding year under head coach Rick Barnes. They lost a lot of players to the draft and graduation from last year. This is a statement game for the Longhorns. Win, and they put a good road win over a Top 25 team on their résumé. Lose, and they can basically say goodbye to their NCAA tourney hopes. I expect a physical match up that will come down to who wins the battle of the boards. Here’s how I see it playing out:
Frontcourt: K-State has too many bodies to throw at the Texas front line. Former starter Thomas Gipson is now coming off of the bench and so is freshman Adrian Diaz. Expect starters Jamar Samuels and Jordan Henriquez to out-physical the Texas front-court.
Backcourt: J’Covan Brown is an All-Conference caliber player, expect a good matchup between him and Rodney McGruder. K-State’s Will Spradling has been pretty average over the past couple of games and freshman guard Angel Rodriguez has been a non-factor. McGruder vs. Brown will be the matchup of the night.
Bench: K-State’s depth is one of their strong points and Texas’s bench is pretty average. Expect K-State’s strong front line to eventually wear down the Horns in the second half.
Coaching/Intangibles: K-State and Texas both really need this win. Coaches Frank Martin and Rick Barnes are trying to get their teams through a tough stretch, I’ll give a slight advantage to KSU simply because it’s at the Octagon.
Prediction: K-State played uncharacteristically bad in their weekend loss to Oklahoma. Meanwhile, Texas has been a bit of a disappointment this season. I like K-State to get back to their winning ways with a home win over a team they haven’t seemed to have much trouble with over the past few years.
K-State: 69 Texas: 60