Kansas State men's basketball has a tough test this week as they head to Ames, Iowa to take on No. 23 Iowa State and then to Houston as they take on No. 4 Houston. This will be the first time the Wildcats will be taking on back-to-back ranked opponents this season.
The Wildcats are 14-4 this season and 4-1 in the conference as they sit tied with Texas Tech at the top of the Big 12. The Red Raiders do hold the tie-breaker over the Wildcats with a head-to-head win and a better overall record.
Wednesday, January 24: Kansas State at No. 23 Iowa State, 8:00 p.m.
K-State will take on Iowa State for the 238th time in their school's history. The Wildcats lead the all-time series 145-92. This matchup dates back to 1909 when K-State brought home the first win. K-State is 5-2 in their last seven matchups against Iowa State.
This will be a tough game for the Wildcats as Iowa State is ranked. The Cyclones somehow moved up in the rankings this week from No. 25 even though they lost to No. 20 BYU and barely beat a struggling TCU team that dropped out of the rankings this week. K-State probably feels they got snubbed from the rankings after upsetting No. 9 Baylor and continuing to win against Oklahoma State.
K-State's performance from their big three Cam Carter, Tylor Perry, and Arthur Kaluma will be crucial in this matchup. If those three can get going and get going early, especially against this No. 2 ranked defense, I think the Wildcats can pull this one out.
Jerome Tang is going to have to pull out one of his signature strong defensive schemes for this game. Iowa State has the No. 4 ranked offense in the Big 12, but if they can guard the Cyclones the same way they did Baylor, K-State can disrupt their rhythm.
I think this is going to be a close game. Iowa State definitely will have the home-court advantage with those fans coming out and being loud. This is a really tough game to pick, but I am going to call the upset on this one. I believe the Wildcats are going to come out from that Oklahoma State game where they did not play their best and set the tone early. The Wildcats will pull this one out, giving them good momentum as they continue their road trip to Houston.
Saturday, January 27: Kansas State at No. 4 Houston, noon.
This game against Houston will be one of the toughest tests for the Wildcats so far this season. The Wildcats are known to take down ranked opponents at home behind a wild crowd, but playing away from the comfort of Bramlage Coliseum is another story.
This Houston team may not light up the scoreboard, but they know how to strangle their opponents on defense. On Saturday, Houston faced their old American Atheltic Conference foe UCF. They held the Knights to 15.9% shooting, the lowest shooting percentage in Big 12 basketball history. The Cougars are the top-ranked defense in the conference allowing only an average of 51.0 points per game.
This is going to be a tall task for K-State, even if Carter, Perry, and Kaluma are all on top of their game. The Wildcats will have to get enough ball movement and take only quality shots to break down a defense that is just so good. If K-State can win at Iowa State and bring good momentum into this game against Houston, they could keep the game close.
This again is a tough game to pick, but I think I have to give the edge to Houston in this one. I think both defenses will show out, but Houston will be the team to make just enough stops to come out with the win in this matchup.