There’s only really one Kansas State story right now, and it’s the one you’re all awaiting with bated breath. At 1 PM, your Kansas State Wildcats will tip off against Michigan in Louisville. No, this isn’t an error. The ninth seed women’s basketball team begins play in the NCAA Tournament today against the eighth seed Wolverines. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2/ESPN3.
Both senior Kayla Goth and junior Peyton Williams are looking to have a totally different NCAA run this time around, which is fair, considering how much the team and its success have changed in the past few. A little over a month ago, the Wildcats were dead in the water at 13-9 overall and 4-6 in the Big 12. Now they’ve won seven of their last eight games, and they’ve been doing it mostly with defense, holding all their opponents but Baylor to less than 41% shooting.
Kayla provided us with a peak behind the scenes about what her time at Kansas State has meant to her and the challenges she’s faced at Kansas State.
Let’s hope they can sustain that level of play against Michigan.
Meanwhile, in the marquee event of the day, the Kansas State men’s basketball team will take on the University of California-Irvine in San Jose. That game is also scheduled for 1 PM and will be broadcast on TBS.
Despite winning the Big 12 this year and being a four-seed, the Wildcats seem like underdogs against popular upset-pick UCI. Some of this is due to the news about Dean Wade and the recurring foot injury that has turned into a sad footnote to his career. But a lot of this is because the Antearters are just plain good. They’re 30-5 on the season and have won 16 straight games. They have the advantage of size over Kansas State, and like the Wildcats, UCI emphasizes defense, leading the nation in field-goal percentage defense.
The Kansas State players have downplayed all the upset talk around the Anteaters. They have respect for their opponents, but also plenty of self-belief, i.e. the sort of confidence that allowed Kamau Stokes to chuckle in exasperation at all the doubt directed at Kansas State. As he put it,
If we handle our business, there won’t be no upsets.
Bruce Weber, who has a sort of natural underdog complex, has previously embraced the DISRESPECT meme that most Kansas State fans are familiar with, focusing on bad luck and the adversity his team has already faced. But this time around, he’s maintaining a positive outlook, noting that the Wildcats can overcome any challenge, and that as long as the team plays “our game,” the outcome will take care of itself.
And then there’s Barry Brown, whose unique (and long) pre-game routine involves the pursuit of perfection and has contributed to his success at Kansas State. Mostly though, his persistence and determination have turned him into the leader the team needed.
Let’s go, Cats!