The Big 12 conference tournament begins at 6:30 PM ET, with Kansas State playing TCU in a battle of the eight and nine seeds. The winner has the unenviable task of attempting to upset top-seed Baylor tomorrow. The T-Mobile Center in Kansas City is the site for this event on ESPN.
Kansas State comes into the Big 12 tournament with three wins in their last four games that reversed a 13-game losing streak. The Wildcats upset an Oklahoma team that was ranked seventh in the nation, at the time, on February 23rd. After a loss at West Virginia, Kansas State concluded their regular season with a 61-56 victory against Iowa State as a 5-point favorite last Saturday.
Bruce Weber expected this to be a rebuilding season after returning only two starters with two other rotation players from the group that finished 11-22 last year. The Wildcats lost their top three scorers. Weber brought in eight new players to inject energy into the program. A five-member freshman class features Nigel Pack, who leads the team with a 12.0 points-per-game scoring average. The lone senior on the team is returning starter Mike McGuirl, second on the team with an 11.9 points-per-game average.
Kansas State ranks 183rd in the nation in the kenpom ratings with an 8-19 record and a 4-14 mark in the conference. They are last in the Big 12 in adjusted offensive efficiency using the kenpom metrics. The Wildcats’ turnover rate of 22.5% in conference play is the highest in the Big 12, while their effective field goal percentage of 44.8% is the lowest. Kansas State is third-to-last in adjusted defensive efficiency. They limit their opponents to rebounding 28.0% of their missed shots which is second-best in the conference.
TCU limps into the Big 12 tournament with three straight losses after a 76-64 setback to Texas as a 7.5-point underdog on March 7th. The Horned Frogs' only victory in their last seven games was against an Iowa State team winless in the conference.
Jamie Dixon returned two starters and six rotational players from the group that was 16-16 last season. He also brought in former five-star recruit Chuck O’Bannon as a transfer from USC. They rank 127th in the kenpom ratings with a 12-13 record with a 5-11 conference mark. A win or two this week in the Big 12 tournament may be enough to earn an invitation to the NIT. Eleven of their losses are to teams who ranked in the top-48 at kenpom. TCU's highest-profile wins are a pair of upset victories against Oklahoma State.
Junior R.J. Nembhard leads the team with a 15.9 points-per-game scoring average. Freshman Mike Miles is a rising star who is second on the team with a 13.8 points-per-game average.
These two teams split their two regular-season encounters. TCU won the first meeting on January 2nd, 67-60, as a 3.5-point favorite in Manhattan. Kansas State returned the favor in Fort Worth on February 20th with a 62-54 upset victory as a 7-point underdog that snapped their 13-game slide. BookMaker
lists TCU as a 3.5-point favorite with the total set at 127.
Computer prediction: TCU 65 Kansas State 60