Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas State has the potential to do something special this season: win a conference championship in both football and basketball. The football team certainly took care of business by going 8-1 in conference play and securing a trip to the Fiesta Bowl. Now it’s time to secure a trophy on the hardwood. And standing in the way of it all is once again a trip through Waco, TX. It’s hard to hate on a school that’s been downtrodden for so long, but the denizens of Aggieville have been cursing Baylor’s name since its late-season football success came at the expense of a trip to the National Championship.
We’re all familiar with the story by now: Kansas State, sitting at 10-0 with the top ranking in college football, traveled to Waco, TX on November 17 with its eyes on a season-ending collision with Texas to secure its first Big 12 Championship since 2003 and spot in the National Championship. That night, Lance Seastrunk ran all over the Wildcats in a 52-24 defeat that killed EMAW nation’s crystal football dreams. On Saturday, with three games left between Kansas State and a share of the Big 12 Conference Championship in basketball and potential three seed in the NCAA tournament, the town of Waco once again threatens to create a dangerous stumbling block.
Please don’t read the preceding paragraph as a belief that the Wildcats will falter. They shouldn’t. But don’t discount the fearful possibility that it could happen. Baylor is a desperate team. Since starting the season 14-5 with a 5-1 record in league play, the Bears have fallen to 17-11 and 8-7 with an RPI of 59. If the season ends today, they don’t make the tournament. Yet with home games against K-State and KU, Baylor is looking to make some noise and play its way in to the NCAAs.
It’s not just that Baylor is desperate – the Bears are desperate and talented, which is a dangerous combination. PG Pierre Jackson is one of the nation’s elite guards, and Angel Rodriguez will have his hands full trying to defend the senior whose averaging 19.1 ppg while shooting 34.7 percent from behind the arc. They’ve also got an excellent big in Isaish Austin, a 7’1″ freshman who neutralized KU’s Jeff Withey during the team’s first match up. In one of his worst games of the year, Withey struggled to eight points on only 3-of-8 shooting while committing two turnovers while banging up against Austin all night. Additionally, this was a team that reached the Elite Eight last year and was the only team other than Kansas to receive a first place vote in the Big 12 Preseason Coaches Poll. 2011-12 actually marked the second Elite Eight appearance for Pierre Jackson and the rest of the senior class. Don’t let the record fool you – this is still a dangerous team.
Continue reading for the reasons K-State will defeat Baylor Saturday night: