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SLATE: Big games today for volleyball and basketball

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Plus Big 12 football postseason awards are out

Baylor v Kansas State Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

Volleyball

For the first time since 2016, the Wildcats are dancing. Kansas State ‘s road in the 2021 NCAA Tournament begins today, with a 4:30pm CST first-round match-up with Florida State at the Devany Center in Lincoln. Led by unanimous First Team All-Big 12 outside hitter Aliyah Carter, the Wildcats will attempt to make their way into the second round, and a potential match-up with Nebraska, the 10th-overall seed (volleyball does national seeds much like baseball, but a bracket like basketball; it’s actually kinda weird, and presumably K-State is a higher seed than Florida State since they got to stay closer to home, but the NCAA only lists the national seeds in the bracket).

You can watch the match on ESPN+, or listen online at K-StateSports.com/Watch (or listen live on KMAN if you are in the Manhattan area)

Basketball

It may not be tournament action, but it’s a big game nonetheless. For the second time this season, the MittieCats will hit the road to take on a Top 5 opponent, this time as part of the Big 12 SEC Challenge. The Wildcats got paired up with South Carolina, who just happens to be the unanimous #1 team in the country right now. The last time these two teams faced off was the 2016 NCAA Tournament Second Round, when the Gamecocks beat up the Wildcats 73-47, also in Columbia, SC. The last time the Wildcats faced a the #1 team in the non-con was also 2016, but that next season in December, when then-#1 UConn traveled to Manhattan.

Tonight’s game tips off at 7pm EST/6pm CST from Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, SC, and can be seen (if you’re lucky) on SEC Network Plus, the streaming arm of the SEC Network. You can also listen online at K-StateSports.com/Watch and on portions of the K-State Sports Network.

Football

There were some serious snubs on the All-Big 12 lists this year. Felix Anudike-Uzomah was name Big 12 co-Defensive Lineman of the Year, and was joined on the All-Big 12 First Team by offensive lineman Cooper Beebe, kick returner Malik Knowles and defensive back Russ Yeast. Yeah, that means Deuce Vaughn got left off the First Team (in favor of Bijan Robinson :eyeroll:...). Vaughn made his appearance on the Second Team with fullback Jax Dineen, but not star linebacker Daniel Green. Green did make the Honorable Mention list, and was joined by nine other Wildcats: defensive back Julius Brents, linebacker Cody Fletcher, defensive tackle Eli Huggins, offensive linemen Noah Johnson and Josh Rivas, defensive backs Jahron McPherson and Reggie Stubblefield, and punter Ty Zentner; plus Knowles made the HM list at wide receiver. In all, 16 Wildcats took up 17 spots on the All-Big 12 lists.

Additional snub: somehow Knowles, who led the league in KR yardage (second in average) and had two returns for scores, was not the Special Teams Player of the Year, but apparently did receive votes.

Other

Six Wildcats sports programs had perfect graduations rates (from the 2014 cohort), and eight programs posted Big 12-leading marks. K-State’s women’s basketball, men’s golf, women’s golf, soccer, tennis and volleyball programs led the Big 12 with perfect 100% marks, while the football team’s 72% federal graduation rate and rowing’s 81% rate were also tops in the league. Though overall the combined department marks were only good for third in the Big 12 with an overall average of 92%, trailing Baylor and Iowa State.

In case you missed it, the Kansas Board of Regents has selected Dr. Richard Linton as the 15th President of Kansas State University. Dr. Linton comes to K-State from NC State, where he has been the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and has spent time leading programs at Purdue, where among other things he was the founder and director of the Center for Food Safety Engineering (which should help him in K-State’s partnership with NBAF), and Ohio State. Linton is expected to officially start his new job on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14th, 2022. Current President Richard Myers, originally scheduled to retire this month, will stay on until Linton arrives in February.

Welcome, Dr. Linton!