Kansas State University

K-State Q&A: NCAA Tournament expectations, UC Irvine and some thoughts on Dean Wade

Before we get started with this week’s K-State Q&A, I want to devote a few words to Dean Wade.

The senior Kansas State forward is injured and will almost certainly miss his second straight NCAA Tournament. That stinks. Talk about horrible luck.

Wade played in 126 games for the Wildcats, scored 1,500 points, made 49.8 percent of his shots, shared the ball like a point guard and twice earned first-team All-Big 12 honors. He arrived on campus with the team in rebuilding mode and now leaves it with a Big 12 championship trophy.

He saved Bruce Weber from the hot seat and turned around K-State basketball, with the help of Barry Brown and Kamau Stokes.

And yet, he was only a healthy participant in one NCAA Tournament game, an uncompetitive loss to Cincinnati as a sophomore. That number moves up to two if you count K-State’s win over Wake Forest in the play-in round that same year, but the point remains: he deserved more.

What always impressed me most about Wade was that he never took a heat-check shot. For most players, if they hit back-to-back threes it seems like they are required to chuck something up from NBA range their next time down court, just because. Sometimes that results in some outrageous points, but more often than not it becomes the equivalent of a turnover. Wade was too smart and patient for that.

He had a game this season against Oklahoma State in which he scored 24 points without missing a single shot. He finished the game 9 for 9. If ever there was a time for him to throw caution to the wind and let shots fly, it was then. But he stayed within K-State’s offense and passed the ball to teammates and grabbed rebounds.

Teammates have long urged Wade to be more aggressive, but that wasn’t his persona. He made his own style work for both him and the Wildcats.

Wade was a great player for K-State and he deserves serious jersey-retirement consideration. It’s just too bad he couldn’t add to his stellar college career and make some memories in the NCAA Tournament.

Now, let’s get to your questions. Thanks, as always, for asking them.

Well, the worst-case scenario seems fairly obvious. The UC Irvine Anteaters were a trendy pick to upset the K-State Wildcats when people thought Wade might play. Now that he’s out, the point spread is down to 4 ½ points.

UC Irvine won 30 games this season and has enough size to bother K-State. This will be a hard game without Wade, and the Wildcats will need to play well to win.

So, the worst-case scenario is that K-State loses on Friday and follows up another Big 12 championship with a first-round exit.

The best-case scenario is much more subjective. I don’t think the Wildcats can make it to the Final Four without Wade, but the bracket could always open up for them like it did last year. It’s not impossible.

Wisconsin or Oregon could both beat K-State in the Round of 32, but the Wildcats could definitely advance to the Sweet 16 without Wade. I have a hard time seeing them getting past that round, though. I don’t love their chances against Virginia. But, as I mentioned above, someone else could beat Virginia first. I didn’t think K-State could beat Virginia last year and UMBC eliminated the Cavaliers in the first round. So another Elite Eight could be in play with the right breaks.

I thought K-State was a legit Final Four contender with Wade at full strength, but that seems unlikely without him.

The Anteaters have won 16 straight games and went 30-5 this season. They have a better KenPom rating than two of the teams that received at-large berths into this tournament. They have size and experience and they can play zone defense. There are legitimate reasons for people to pick UC Irvine in this game.

Also, 13 seeds have been beating 4 seeds lately.

K-State beat UC Irvine handily at Bramlage Coliseum last season, but that game won’t help the Wildcats here.

I’m still not overly worried about UC Irvine, though. I think all the national experts picking against K-State in this game will help the Wildcats. The secret is out on the Anteaters. They won’t sneak up on Barry Brown or Kamau Stokes. Senior leadership will put K-State over the top in the first round.

K-State always plays its best when it has a chip on its shoulder, and it will have one in this game. Even as the No. 4 seed.


No, but that would be awesome. If anyone deserves to play professionally for a while next year and then return to college for a few weeks in March, it’s Wade.

I could answer this question many different ways.

The Wildcats will win if Barry Brown puts the team on his back and has a huge game. They will win if Mike McGuirl erupts for 20 points. They will win if Cartier Diarra throws down windmill dunks. They will win if Makol Mawien scores a new career high. They will win if Kamau Stokes keeps up his hot streak.

I could see all of those things happening.

But my answer is Xavier Sneed. He has played some of his best games filling in for Dean Wade as a stretch four, and he will get more opportunities this month.

If he plays will, the Wildcats will be hard to beat.

That probably depends on how he plays in this NCAA Tournament.

If he goes off and has another Kentucky game (22 points, nine rebounds) then maybe he will grab enough attention to turn pro early. If he has a quiet March, maybe he decides to come back.

I think he will definitely test the pro waters and see where he stands with NBA scouts.

The way K-State coaches are currently recruiting for next season without any open scholarships suggests they are at least bracing for the possibility he leaves early.

Bruce Weber has still got a long way to go before K-State names anything after him. At this time last year, K-State fans couldn’t even decide if they liked the guy.

He’s had a great run with the Wildcats and he can add to it this month. Two conference championships is impressive, but K-State basketball has a bit stronger basketball tradition than the football team had when Bill Snyder arrived.

No one has credited Weber for saving the university or town the way they have with Snyder.

But it does put Weber’s accomplishments in perspective. He’s one of the best basketball coaches in K-State history.

I like Murray State to get to the Sweet 16, but didn’t pick many huge upsets otherwise.

I’ve got Yale beating LSU in the first round and New Mexico State over Auburn. As I write this, I regret not having more upsets, but I’m sticking with it.

I had what I thought was a great line about Wisconsin and K-State being placed in the same NCAA Tournament pod for what felt like the 100th time in my Sunday bracket analysis, but my editors took it out.

So I will write it again here: it feels like K-State and Wisconsin are in the same NCAA Tournament pod for the 100th time.

It’s also funny that Dana Altman has a team in San Jose. It seems like he is also usually in K-State’s pod.

Lubbock is probably at the top of the list. People talk about the town like it’s the arm pit of America, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s a fun place with impressive dining options and a few cool things to do.

I wouldn’t want to go there on vacation, but it’s a good destination to spend a day or two.

Louisville is also a ton of fun. I had no idea what to expect going there for some NCAA Tournament games a few years ago and had a blast. I would recommend the trip to any fan looking to follow K-State to the Sweet 16, if the Wildcats make it that far. Or you could just go now and watch the women play.

Other cities I have liked that you might not think are obvious: Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Tucson, Salt Lake City.

The worst spots have been in Ohio. I got sent to Cleveland for a Wichita State game a few years back and hated every second of it. Rooming with Tony Adame was the only good part of the trip.

I proudly have not seen all that many dancing movies. I’m not even sure I’ve ever watched one from start to finish. So this isn’t going to be much of a list.

You Got Served has to be at the top, because it’s fun to say, “You got served!”

The only other dancing movies I can even name are Center Stage, Dirty Dancing, Foot Loose and Magic Mike.

I made a pilgrimage to In-N-Out Burger last night. Really like the place. Always have. They make a good burger and fries.

But it’s no Whataburger. There’s no variety (you can’t even get bacon on your burger) or fancy ketchup. Whataburger remains the fast food king for me.

Bruce Weber would much rather go small than big, so there just aren’t many opportunities for both Austin Trice and Levi Stockard to play.

I will admit, it is a bit strange that they have flip-flopped so much over the past month. One week, it’s all Stockard. The next, it’s all Trice.

This game could honestly be different, though. UC Irvine is a very big opponent, and K-State might have some opportunities to go big. I bet Stockard is the first option, but Trice also sees meaningful minutes.

If both players are completely healthy, I give a slight edge to Dean Wade. But only one of them is healthy right now, and big men with chronic foot issues aren’t the most popular commodities in the NBA. So I’m inclined to say Brown.

Neither player is currently a projected draft pick, per nbadraft.net. So one of them is going to have to impress a team in the next few months.

Brown will have a head start, given that he went through NBA workouts last year.

Turning defense into offense with fast-break points is always the goal for K-State, but it becomes an even greater priority without Wade in the lineup.

One thing the Wildcats can do without Wade is play fast, and you saw that last week at the Big 12 Tournament. Remember the play in which Cartier Diarra and Mike McGuirl connected for a lob dunk? Well, it started with Barry Brown grabbing a loose ball and tossing it to Kamau Stokes. Stokes then flipped the ball to Diarra and the Cats were running.

The Cats much prefer to have Wade in half-court sets, but they are actually a little better without him in the open court.

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