Kansas State University

Kansas State ready to play Wichita State, but 'timing isn't right' for rivalry reboot

As another loss to KU loomed, there were a lot of long faces for Kansas State as the Wildcats watched KU's Devonte' Graham shoot free throws near the conclusion of the semi-final game Friday night in the Big 12 Tournament. KU beat KSU, 83-67.
As another loss to KU loomed, there were a lot of long faces for Kansas State as the Wildcats watched KU's Devonte' Graham shoot free throws near the conclusion of the semi-final game Friday night in the Big 12 Tournament. KU beat KSU, 83-67.

Kansas State and Wichita State may revive their men's basketball series in the near future, but the Wildcats and Shockers won’t play next season.

“With their situation, the timing isn’t right,” K-State coach Bruce Weber told The Wichita Eagle on Friday. “We will look maybe to start it a little later on.”

K-State and Wichita State haven’t met on the basketball court since 2003, when Jim Wooldridge and Mark Turgeon were coaching, but the schools seriously discussed reviving the series this spring.

Earlier this month, K-State athletic director Gene Taylor said the Wildcats and Shockers were exploring options for future games and hoping to agree on a home-and-home series that rotates between Bramlage Coliseum and Koch Arena.

“We did talk to them, but they don’t want to start the series right now,” Weber said. “We had asked them about playing at our place to start and they said, 'No.' Then we looked at maybe going to their place. It just didn’t work out.”

Why wait to reboot the in-state rivalry?

A look at each team’s roster may reveal the answer.

Reviving the series makes sense for K-State, at the moment, as the Wildcats expect to return their starting lineup from a team that won 25 games last season and advanced to the Elite Eight. Beefing up their nonconference schedule is a priority.

But the timing may be off for Wichita State. Though the Shockers are also coming off a strong season in which they won 25 games and earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, they have experienced major roster turnover. The only returning players on Gregg Marshall’s squad are Markis McDuffie, Samajae Haynes-Jones, Asbjorn Midtgaard and Rod Brown.

Wichita State already has nonconference games scheduled against Baylor and Oklahoma on top of a trip to the Charleston Classic, an eight-team tournament that features Alabama, Davidson, Purdue and Virginia Tech. The Shockers might not need another difficult game as they rebuild.

K-State and Wichita State began playing each other in 1932 and regularly faced each other from 1986-2003 before the series went dormant with the Wildcats holding a 20-11 advantage.

Without Wichita State as an option, K-State will look elsewhere to improve its nonconference schedule, which ranked 336th nationally last season in terms of difficulty.

Weber said the Wildcats have two openings on their schedule, and they are hoping to add games with two notable opponents. Hopefully, he said, one of them will be at home.

Games currently on K-State’s nonconference schedule for next season include Vanderbilt (Sprint Center), at Tulsa, a road game in the Big 12/SEC Challenge and a trip to the Paradise Jam, a three-game tournament that also includes Missouri, Northern Iowa, Old Dominion and Oregon State.

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