For those interested in following K-State's opponents, the 76 Classic in Anaheim — which features three of them — is front and center.
Virginia Tech clowned Cal State Northridge 72-56 on Thanksgiving to propel the Hokies into a semifinal match-up with Oklahoma State, which squeaked by DePaul 60-56. I fully expect VaTech to beat Okie Lite today, and here's why:
DePaul is not a good team. The Blue Demons went 1-17 in Big East play last season.
Granted, they have a new coach (Oliver Purnell) and a new full-court press defensive system, but that's no excuse for the Cowboys to have turned it over 25 times.
Despite the offensive presence of Marshall Moses — who, for my money, looks like the most improved player in the Big 12 so far this season — the Pokes struggled mightily to replace the 30+ points per game provided last season by James Anderson and Obi Muonelo.
They were not aided at all in that quest by junior Keiton Page, who shot a pathetic percentage from 3, despite multiple wide-open looks, and appeared to be suffering from the same early-season affliction that robbed Jacob Pullen and Rodney McGruder of their long-distance shots against Duke.
I simply think Oklahoma State will be unable to shut down Virginia Tech's offensive game, considering the Cowboys were challenged repeatedly by DePaul's mediocre shooting and offensive rebounding abilities.
Regardless, the winner probably will advance to play UNLV, which handled Tulsa solidly, in the championship — but don't sleep on Murray State, who knocked off Stanford and advanced to the round of 32 last year. The Racers could challenge the Runnin' Rebels if Lon Kruger's team looks past the veteran Ohio Valley team at all.
Finally, like OSU, Texas A&M is struggling to replace lost veterans Bryan Davis and Donald Sloan. David Loubeau is supposed to be this year's go-to threat, but I agreed with the ESPN announcers who thought he floated around and didn't look for his shot nearly enough.
That left Dash Harris and B.J. Holmes to get it done, but they're simply not experienced enough yet. Holmes missed a free throw on a possible 4-point play that would have tied the game in the last minute, while Harris missed a point-blank layup with seconds left on the clock that would have forced overtime.
The Aggies can get better, but they look as if sixth place might be their ceiling in the Big 12 this year. That's a better outlook that Oklahoma State's, though. If Colorado becomes as good as advertised, the Cowboys might finish eighth.
AP Ranking = 4
ESPN/USA Today Ranking = 4
Overall Record = 4-1
RPI = 10
SOS = 8
Signature Wins (RPI 1-30) = none
Quality Wins (RPI 31-100) = James Madison, Virginia Tech
Bad Losses (RPI 101 or greater) = none
- James Madison (4-1) | RPI = 72
Virginia Tech (3-1) | RPI = 96: Win over Cal State Northridge (72-56 in the 76 Classic)
- Presbyterian (2-4) | RPI = 122
- No. 22 Gonzaga (3-2) | RPI = 107
No. 1 Duke (5-0) | RPI = 24
- Texas Southern (1-4) | RPI = 167
- Emporia State (3-2*)
- Washington State (3-0) | RPI = 140
- Alcorn State (0-5) | RPI = 293
- Loyola Chicago (6-0) | RPI = 73
- No. 16 Florida (4-1) | RPI = 97
UNLV (4-0) | RPI = 3: Win over Tulsa (80-71 in the 76 Classic)
- UMKC (4-0) | RPI = 247
- North Florida (3-3) | RPI = 60
- Savannah State (1-6) | RPI = 316
Oklahoma State (4-0) | RPI = 156: Win over DePaul (60-56 in the 76 Classic)
- Colorado (2-2) | RPI = 235
- Texas Tech (4-1) | RPI = 169
- No. 11 Missouri (4-0) | RPI = 33
Texas A&M (3-1) | RPI = 236: Loss to Boston College (65-67 in the Old Spice Classic)
- No. 12 Baylor (4-0) | RPI = 54
- No. 6 Kansas (4-0) | RPI = 37
- Nebraska (3-2) | RPI = 273
- Iowa State (5-0) | RPI = 15
- Oklahoma (3-3) | RPI = 234
- No. 20 Texas (4-1) | RPI = 26