Kansas State Wildcats (16-7) at Texas Longhorns (15-8)
We took a big swing and a miss last night when we backed the Michigan Wolverines on the road in Big 10 league play against a struggling Northwestern Wildcats team. We were looking good early as Michigan held a 32-29 halftime lead. But the wheels fell off for Big Blue in the second half and they let the game slip away late, losing 61-52.
Michigan jacked up lots of threes, but sadly for us, not many went in, as the Wolverines shot just 22% from behind the arc. I am always very leery of taking road favorites in league play, and this is exactly why. Strange things tend to happen on the road, and tonight the basket had a lid on it for Michigan.
Tonight, we will look at another Wildcat team as the Kansas State Wildcats will travel to Austin to face the Longhorns of Texas in Big 12 action.
The Kansas State Wildcats will look to get above .500 in conference play tonight when they head to Texas to play a solid Longhorns team Wednesday night. K-State is 5-5 in league play and could really use a big resume-building win like this tonight, as they find themselves squarely on the bubble for the NCAA tournament this year.
The Longhorns will look to continue protecting their home floor, something they have done a great job of so far this season. Texas is a -5-point home favorite tonight. The game total over-under is set at 132.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:00 PM PST from the Frank Erwin Center.
The Texas Longhorns have done a fantastic job of getting the job done at home this season in Big 12 play. For my money, the Big 12 is the best conference in the land, and Texas has managed to play all the league has to offer at home and pick up some huge wins. The Longhorns have home wins against TCU, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Mississippi, and Oklahoma this season. The only home loss for Texas this year has been against the Kansas Jayhawks.
A big reason for the Longhorns success this year, and I mean big, is superstar freshman Mo Bamba. The box score lists him at just 6-11, but he looks every bit of seven feet tall and has one of the longest wingspans I have ever seen. The big man is a double-double machine, averaging 13 points and over 10 boards a game. But the real key to his success has been his ability to protect the rim.
Bamba is leading the nation with 4.4 blocks a game. If you think you can drive the lane with Bamba waiting down low, you are dead wrong. In his last ten games, Bamba has scored in double digits nine times and has at least nine rebounds in every game. The future lottery pick is starting to really come into his own, and that is scary for the rest of the Big 12. They will need another signature performance tonight from Bamba if they are going to hold off a very motivated K-State team.
The Kansas State Wildcats aren’t an elite team in the Big 12 this season, but that hasn’t stopped them from picking up some huge wins. The Wildcats hold victories over TCU, Georgia, and Oklahoma. The problem for K-State, is all of their big wins have come at home this season. When forced to go on the road in league play this year, the Wildcats have struggled.
They dropped road games to West Virginia, Kansas, and Texas Tech in Big 12 play. Those aren’t losses to be ashamed of, those teams are all really good, but this is what life in the Big 12 is like this year. K-State badly needs a breakthrough win on the road to show they can win outside of Manhattan.
This is yet another tough game in the Big 12 conference. K-State had some great momentum going in Mid-January as the reeled off four straight wins against TCU, Oklahoma, Baylor, and Georgia. It looked like this team was going to get hot at the right time and make a deep run into March. All that momentum came to a halt though as they have now lost two straight games to Kansas and West Virginia, neither of which were remotely competitive.
When you break down that nice little run the Cats had, it might not be as nice as it seems on the surface. They beat Oklahoma, great win, but Trae Young shot an abysmal 2-10 from three-point land, and they shot an uncharacteristically high 53% from deep themselves. The win against TCU was the Horned Frogs first game without their star point guard Jaylen Fisher, so that isn’t nearly the win it could have been. And the last two wins were against Baylor and Georgia, two solid teams, but neither of them are going to be dancing in March. So, was it a great run? Or just a little luck on their side? We will find out tonight in Austin.
I just can’t back this K- State team on the road. They have shown me nothing that says they will be able to beat a legit tournament team away from their home floor. The Wildcats best two road wins this season are against Iowa State and Baylor, and both of those teams have double-digit losses. The line is a little higher than I would like it to be, as this game will almost certainly be a competitive one. I just see Bamba’s presence being too much for the Wildcats to overcome and see them being frustrated on the offensive side of the ball all night long.
I’m backing the better team, that is playing better at the moment, at home, tonight. Give me the Texas Longhorns in a bit of a sweat laying -5-points tonight from Austin.