It’s wild just how much difference one game can make.
Before Sunday’s game in Wichita, optimistically we were still on the fence about the K-State men’s basketball team and how this season could go. Two losses in Kansas City to the only two teams yet played with a pulse soured us early, and blowout wins that almost weren’t caused more heartburn. And then the game in Wichita happened. The Shockers are a good team, and were essentially playing at home at the “neutral site” Intrust Bank Arena in downtown Wichita. And yet the Wildcats found a way to win, even down starting point guard, and arguably the team’s best player, Nijel Pack.
And while it’s not time to crown these guys conference champs or anything, there is now a much more optimistic bent to visions of the future.
But tonight’s opponent isn’t any easier, and the Cats may still be without Pack as he recovers from a concussion. Marquette comes into tonight’s game at 7-2 with win over Illinois (in Milwaukee), Ole Miss, and West Virginia. There two losses have come on the road to Top 25 teams, losing to 22/24 St. Bonaventure in the championship game of the 2021 Shriners Children’s Charleston (SC) Classic (where the wins over Ole Miss and WVU came from), and just this past weekend to 23/22 Wisconsin in Madison, WI.
And these aren’t the same Golden Eagles we saw in Bramlage in 2019. Shaka Smart is the new head man in Milwaukee, and he has brought back is brand of up-tempo pressure defense that made him so successful at VCU before he left for Texas. The Eagles score lots of points, and will make teams work hard for buckets, despite giving up 70+ in four of their five “good opponent” games. Regardless, it’s going to be a tough game for the Wildcats who have struggled offensively even against bad teams. One thing going for the Wildcats tonight: Marquette has a home matchup with 4/4 UCLA this coming weekend, and it’s possible that Smart’s team might get caught looking ahead.
And at this point, even coming off a big win, the Wildcats will take any help they can get. Or it could be another long night for the guys in
Tonight’s game from Bramlage tips at 8:05pm CT and can be seen on ESPN2 with Lowell Galindo (play-by-play) and Lance Blanks (analyst) on the call. The game should also be available streaming via WatchESPN, if you already have the correct TV subscription. It’s the Color Rush game, so if you’re headed to Bramlage (or just want to join in at home), fans are encouraged to wear lavender to match the team’s lavender uniforms.
If you don’t get ESPN2, 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 on XM channel 381 and online on the The Varsity Network app and at K-StateSports.com.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
Kansas State Wildcats (5-2)
G: #00 Mike McGuirl
G: #1 Markquis Nowell
G: #13 Mark Smith
F: #25 Ismael [Ish] Massoud
F: #20 Kaosi Ezeagu
Marquette Golden Eagles (7-2)
G: #1 Kam Jones
G: #10 Justin Lewis
G: #22 Tyler Kolek
G: #32 Darryl Morsell
F: #35 Kur Kuath