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Cats face big test against Marquette

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A win could set Kansas State up nicely for the rest of the season.

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

We’re finally at that crossroads of the sports calendar when football is still out there, but we’ve turned our attention indoors to basketball.

Kansas State (5-2) hosts Marquette (6-2) on Saturday in the inaugural Big 12/Big East contest. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 PM CST, and the game can be seen on ESPN2. In no particular order, here are some interesting game notes:

— The Wildcats will be wearing new throwback uniforms for the first time this season. The uniforms recall the 1976-77 squad that won the Big 8 regular season title and conference tournament title but lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament...to Marquette.

— Marquette features Markus Howard, currently the leading scorer in the nation with 26 points per game. But the Wildcats might not have to face him after all. He missed Marquette’s most recent game because he was in concussion protocol and has not yet been cleared to play on Saturday.

— Speaking of players available on Saturday, it’s possible that Montavious Murphy will play for Kansas State, but it’s also possible he may miss the game. Bruce Weber noted that Murphy has “made progress” but has not practiced.

— For more insight into the Marquette game, be sure to catch the latest episode of Bring on the PodCats with Luke Thompson, Eric Rubottom, and special guest Ben Steel of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

In other basketball news, former Kansas State star Dean Wade put on a show for the Canton Charge, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ G League affiliate. In a 116-109 win, Wade scored his second double-double of the season, collecting 24 points, 10 boards and five assists in 35 minutes.

The women’s basketball team is also in action this weekend, as the Wildcats hit the road to take on #23 Arkansas at 2 PM on Saturday. The game will air on the SEC Network. The Wildcats lead the all-time series, but have been winless in Fayetteville. This is Kansas State’s first true road game of the season, and the Wildcats hope to extend their five-game road winning streak going into last season.

The football team was picked to finish ninth in the Big 12, just ahead of Kansas. Instead, the Wildcats went 8-4 and tied for third in the conference. Now the team awaits its bowl fate, which could be any one of the Camping World Bowl (Orlando; vs Notre Dame), the Liberty Bowl (Memphis; vs. SEC), or the Texas Bowl (Houston; vs. SEC).

With a bit of downtime, players and the staff can reflect on what Chris Klieman described as “an unbelievable ride.” He was also quick to deflect any praise and direct it towards the players instead, noting it was the buy-in from the team’s 27 seniors that really made the season successful, especially after he emphasized the importance of belief and love in one of his post-game locker room speeches.

Finally, here’s something to chew on as we head into the last few weeks of the football season: there’s been some whispering regarding Kansas State coaches potentially taking open coaching jobs elsewhere, including a couple of interesting possibilities at Colorado State in view of Mike Bobo’s departure.