Kicking off the semifinals of the NIT Season Tipoff in Madison Square Garden, Kansas State matches up this afternoon against the University of Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens. Although top seeds Michigan, Pitt, and K-State won their respective quarters of the bracket, Delaware was a surprise qualifier after upsetting Virginia of the ACC last week in defensive struggle, 59-53. Delaware also defeated Penn in the first game of the tournament.
Delaware (2-1) plays an up-tempo style, starting three guards starting at 6’2″ who combine for over 35 points per game. And while the Hens were forced to win two close games to reach New York, Kansas State has won all four of its games this year by wide margins (the closest victory being a 19 point win over North Florida on Sunday). Delaware has relied on strong defense this year while while struggling to score baskets. This scoring trend should continue in the presence of strong defensive pressure from the Wildcats, while containing the Wildcats will be difficult given their superior height. Coach Bruce Weber should enjoy another easy 15 or 20 point victory before a difficult game on Friday, where they will match up against either Pitt or Michigan. Both opponents would provide a strong challenge for the Wildcats – particularly a #4 Wolverine team expecting to earn a one seed in the NCAA tournament come March.