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#3 Kansas at #11 Kansas State Preview, and my player of the week for the Big 12.
Big 12 Matchup of the Week#3 Kansas (16-1) at #11 Kansas State (15-2) | (Tuesday, Jan. 22nd) This is going to be one hell of a game as the two in-state Big 12 rivals take the court in what should be a top game of the year. Kansas hasn’t lost a game since they stumbled to #13 Michigan State (16-3) back in mid-November. They are the best team I have seen in the Big 12 by far this year, and the most complete team you will watch play a game all season. They have the freshman star shooting guard Ben McLemore (16.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.3 spg), seven foot senior center Jeff Withey (13.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 4.6 bpg), and senior guard Travis Releford (12.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.6 apg) as their top scorers. Add in 5 assists per game by Elijah Johnson and 6.9 rpg by Kevin Young and you are looking at a Final Four team of the NCAA tournament for sure. Kansas can do it all, and will most likely be a #1 seed in March unless they take a drastic turn and go down a losing path. I don’t see that happening. The teams that I thought to have a fighting chance against KU were Baylor (KU won 61-44), ISU (KU won in overtime), Oklahoma State (yet to play), and surprise Big 12 contender Kansas State. KSU has only lost to #2 Michigan (17-1) and #10 Gonzaga (17-2). KSU hasn’t blown any Big 12 teams out of the water in their conference games this year, and barley won against a mediocre Big 12 team in West Virginia (8-9). They are not as complete a team as KU, and will not make the Final Four this year. Although they will go to the NCAA tournament and make a nice run probably in to the Sweet 16. They switch a lot of guys in and out throughout the game and rely on one guy in Rodney McGruder (15.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.2 spg) to make things happen while the entire unit has to pitch in to get the wins. KSU is a good team just not nearly on the level of KU. But, I have to go with my basketball instinct and say Kansas is long overdue for a loss to bring them back to reality. Iowa State (13-4) gave KU a scare on their home court in Lawrence, and I think a game on the road to bitter rival KSU is maybe something that spells disaster for KU. Don’t ask me why, let’s just say I smell an upset in the air by a KSU team that will be fighting for a win to prove that they are the team to beat in the state of Kansas to everyone.
Big 12 Player of the WeekMelvin Ejim | The Cyclones junior forward had back to back double-doubles in wins against West Virginia and TCU. When you get two wins and two double-doubles in a week you definitely deserve to be player of the week. Against WVU he had 16 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal. Against TCU he had 10 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 assists. He’s not the biggest forward at only 6’6’’ but he knows how to box out down low, and fights hard for his rebounds. That is why he is #1 in the Big 12 conference in rebounding at 9.7 rpg.