I hate missing tonight’s Kansas State-Kansas basketball game in Lawrence. But the Cotton Bowl beckons and everyone is having a good and busy time in Dallas. So I can’t complain too much.
But this basketball game is interesting to me. Kansas State has surprised me so far by getting so much out of what I deem to be an average offensive team. Give Frank Martin credit for coaching the Wildcats up and nobody plays defense any better than K-State. That’s a credit to how much Martin drives his players.
At home, as you know, Kansas is nearly invincible. That’s why I think the Jayhawks will prevail tonight in a close game. I don’t believe Kansas State has anyone who can match up successfully with KU’s Thomas Robinson on the inside. Robinson is just too strong and too athletic for most of the players he matches up with. Can Kansas State’s Jamar Samuels be effective against Robinson? Perhaps during stretches, but it will be important for Martin and K-State to give Robinson several different looks defenisvely.
Kansas State’s defensive pressure will strain the Jayhawks, who are challenged when it comes to handling the basketball. I look for the Wildcats to really get after KU on the perimeter and try to get Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson to speed up the game. Even though they’re veteran players, Johnson and especially Taylor have been prone to turnovers.
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In the end, though, I question whether Kansas State can score enough to beat the Jayhawks. It’s not like KU won’t apply tremendous defensive pressure of its own. And it’s not as if K-State has a bunch of proven guards who can withstand the pressure.
It feels to me like the team that makes the fewest mistakes wins tonight. Both teams, despite very good starts, have question marks. Which team exploits those question marks to the fullest is the team that wins.
My pick: Kansas 67, Kansas State 62.