It’s been over eight months since the college basketball world came to a screeching halt thanks to the worldwide pandemic.
Back on March 11th, 2020, the Kansas State Wildcats had just beaten the TCU Horned Frogs to advance out of the first round of the Big 12 Tournament. It ended up being one of the last college basketball games played, as the Big 12 followed conferences around the country in shutting down the tournament that night. Silver lining: it ensured the Wildcats ended their season with a win for the first time since the end of the 1970-71 season (h/t to i.d. for finding that nugget).
But we need to go further back in time to find the last time the Wildcats played today’s opponent, the Drake Bulldogs. The Wildcats and Bulldogs, one-time conference mates, have only played a few times since the Missouri Valley Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association split after the 1928 season to form the Big Six (later Big Eight) and Missouri Valley Conferences. The last meeting between the two came on December 8th, 1956, when Tex Winter’s Cats put up 90 (!!) points but only gave up 41 points to the Bulldogs. I guess a 49-point beating was enough to convince Drake to not play the Wildcats again for nearly 64 years.
These two teams shouldn’t be quite so far apart today, as the Wildcats welcome in seven new players to the 2020-21 roster after Bruce Weber decided to completely overhaul a team that piled up more losses in 2019-20 (21) than any other team in K-State history. Drake finished last season in 8th in the Missouri Valley, but with a 8-10 conference record and a 20-14 overall record. And somehow, despite winning the conference twice while he was head coach at Southern Illinois, Weber has struggled against Valley teams during his time at K-State, including losing 73-60 to an okay Bradley team last season at the Fort Myers Tipoff. But this is a new team for K-State, so I guess anything is possible.
Let’s just enjoy the return of major college basketball...while it lasts.
We’ve got an early-afternoon tip-off from Bramlage today, with a 1:05pm CT start that can be seen on ESPNU with Chuckie Kempf (play-by-play) and Tim Welsh (analyst) on the call. You might be able to stream the game via WatchESPN if the game isn’t blocked in your area. No fans will be in Bramlage today, just a limited number of player’s family and facility staff, so expect a weird-feeling atmosphere.
If you don’t get ESPNU, or can’t access the stream, you can listen to Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (analyst) call the game on much of the K-State Sports Radio Network, and also available online via the TuneIn App and at K-StateSports.com, and satellite radio on XM 384.