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SLATE: Kansas State kicks off NCAA Indoor Championships

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Lots of basketball stuff, tennis destroys the Shockers, and baseball finally comes home

Lauren Taubert is now the NCAA heptathlon leader.
Lauren Taubert extends K-State’s streak of sending a pentathlete to the NCAAs to nine years. No school has a longer current streak.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As you’d expect, today’s Slate is mostly about bouncyhoops as we have one more sleep until the most important regular season game K-State will have played in any sport since the Titletown year of 2012-13. At around 3:00pm tomorrow afternoon, we’ll know whether the Cats are playing a must-win game just to hold onto a share of the title... or are playing a game to claim their first outright crown since Jack Hartman was barking at Mike Evans and Curtis Redding.

They lost to Marquette in the tournament that year. Grr.

Anyway, moving on. It’s the Friday Slate, which means there must be a link to Tournament Thursday, right? This week, Luke asks whether depth matters once the clock springs forward and costs you an hour of sleep.

If you have your Athletic subscription, click away: C.J. Moore delves into the mind of Barry Brown Jr.

From Ryan Black at the Mercury, two items today. Black reports on the selection of Wildcat signee DaJuan Gordon’s selection as the player of the year in the city of Chicago, forever etching his name along the likes of Isiah Thomas, Kevin Garnett, and Derrick Rose. Black also checks in with an injury report; Cartier Diarra is coming along nicely but probably still won’t dribble a ball in anger until the NCAA Tournament, while Kamau Stokes is being limited in practice due to a nagging toe injury and a recent migraine affliction.

At the Star, Kellis Robinett reports that the Wildcats are not really feeling the pressure heading into tomorrow’s pivotal finale, even with Senior Day adding to the distraction.

We bounce back to the Merc for some women’s coverage courtesy of Justin Toscano (who, as we enter the tournament, we should give a friendly shoutout for doing a bang-up job covering the women this year). Toscano examines some of the things which have led to the late-season resurgence this year, and also takes a look at the two wildly different meetings this season with the team’s first-round opponent, West Virginia. (Today’s Sports Extra has Corbin McGuire covering much the same ground.)

That game will be at 11:00am in Oklahoma City, and you can catch it on your FOX regional, assuming you’re, you know, in the region or have a sports pack which gives you all of them.

Track and Field

The NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships begin today in Birmingham, Ala. There is basically zero chance of the Wildcats capturing that elusive national title in a team sport, as only five Cats will be participating. They include:

  • defending outdoor high jump champ Tejaswin Shankar, ranked second nationally this indoor season;
  • Big 12 triple jump champion Shardia Lawrence, an honorable mention outdoor All-American last spring, holding the fourth-best mark this year;
  • outdoor second-team All-America decathlete Aaron Booth competing in the heptathlon as the fifth-ranked competitor;
  • senior Brett Neelly, a previous outdoor All-American in the shot put, ranked sixth; and
  • junior pentathlete Lauren Taubert, making her first NCAA appearance in combined events after qualifying in the outdoor 400m last year.

Even a clean sweep of five individual national championships would only provide the men with 30 points and the women with 20, which last year would have placed the men fifth and the women tied for ninth. That’s a goal, at least.

Coverage begins on ESPN3 at 5:30pm, and continues Saturday at 4:00pm. Do be aware, though, that ESPN3’s coverage of the event usually tends to focus obsessively on the track rather than the infield, so you probably won’t get to see much of your cinder heroes.

Tennis

Our ladies are for real, y’all. K-State ended their non-conference schedule yesterday by improving to 2-2 against ITA Top-50 competition this season as they swept 40th-ranked Wichita State 7-0 on the home courts at Body First. That puts K-State in position to move up from their current ranking of 37 before hitting the road next weekend for a tour of the Oklahoma schools to kick off Big 12 play. The Sooners, next Friday’s opponent, are currently three spots ahead of the Cats, while Sunday’s match will be a serious challenge: Oklahoma State is ranked eighth in the nation.

The sweep over the Shockers was, well, shocking. Wichita State came in riding a six-match winning streak, and the Cats simply destroyed them. The teams played a total of 13 sets; K-State won 12 of them. The win leaves K-State with a 10-3 record as they begin conference play.

Beisbol

Since the weather appears to not completely suck, the BatCats (5-6) appear set to finally play their first game of the season at Tointon tonight. Old Dominion (9-2) is in town for a three-game set which will begin at 6:00pm with Tyler Eckberg slated to take the hill for K-State. They’ll play tomorrow at 2:00pm and finish Sunday at 1:00. All three games will stream on K-StateHD.tv, on the K-State Sports Roku app, and on Apple TV; Friday and Sunday games will also stream on Facebook Live.

Yesterday’s Sports Extra featured McGuire profiling freshman lefty Jordan Wicks.

Bonus Friday Trivia Question!

In men’s basketball, K-State, Kansas, Kentucky, and Connecticut all have something very specific in common, and it’s a bit painful to think about. What is it? We’ll clue you in... later. Happy Friday!