Well, Kansas State is 1-0, which is something we could not say last year.
The Wildcats escaped with a 67-57 over Florida A&M last week, but this crew of WeberCats showed flashes of the potential we’ve heard about all off-season. It wasn’t a polished product by any means, and Bruce Weber is still working a couple of guys back in who missed time right before the season started, but it appears the pieces are there for the Wildcats right now to be improved over last season.
And that starts with the transfers, who all flashed ability last week. Mark Smith poured in 12 points and 6 rebounds, Ish Massoud had a quiet five points and three boards (but showed his range), and Markquis Nowell had six points and six assists off the bench (but flashed his speed and defense). Of course, Nijel Pack showed up after and dropped in 18 points on very efficient shooting (4-7 from range, 6-11 from the field), and Selton Miguel had a slow start, but awoke when it mattered to carry the team over the finish line. Also of note, Davion Bradford had just been cleared to play again as the season started after missing several weeks due to non-COIVD illness, and is still just getting back up to speed.
Tonight’s opponent is one the Wildcats have struggled with in the past, including struggling to a 2-point win last year, but appears to be a team that a fully-loaded Wildcats team should beat by 10-15 points. The Mavericks are 1-1, but their one win is a 10-point win over NAIA Hastings College (not sure how they get to count that, but whatever), and they lost 73-69 to a Ball State team that was picked to finish 8th in the 12-team MAC. So this is not the tough Mavericks that the Wildcats saw last year.
So expect a Wildcat victory that sees the group of walk-ons get several minutes at the end of the game, but don’t be surprised if this is somehow closer than it should be.
Tonight’s game from Bramlage Coliseum tips at 7:01pm CT and can be seen on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ with Ben Boyle (play-by-play), Stan Weber (analyst), and Katherine Benhardt (sideline reporter) on the call.
If you haven’t subscribed to ESPN+, or just don’t want to, you can listen to Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Matt Walters (analyst) call the game on much of the K-State Sports Radio Network, and also available online on the The Varsity Network app and at K-StateSports.com.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
Kansas State Wildcats (1-0)
G: #00 Mike McGuirl
G: #13 Mark Smith
G: #21 Nijel Pack
F: #25 Ismael [Ish] Massoud
F: #20 Kaosi Ezeagu
Omaha Mavericks (1-1)
G: #00 Sam’i Roe
G: #25 Felix Lemetti
G/F: #2 Kyle Luedtke
F: #23 Frankie Fidler
F: #44 Isaiah Pooh Bear-Chandler