Kansas State Feast Week Assignment: Maui Invitational

Posted by KoryCarpenter on November 24th, 2014

In a loaded Feast Week of action, several Big 12 schools will head to a neutral site to take on all comers and hopefully build their resumes. Let’s take a look at each, beginning with Kansas State in Maui. 

Catching Up: Kansas State travels to the Maui Invitational with plenty of questions still unanswered. The Wildcats beat up on Southern Utah, played UMKC closer than fans probably expected (winning by 10), and lost on the road at Long Beach State, 69-60, on Friday. The Wildcats have a solid core of Marcus Foster, Thomas Gipson, Nino Williams, Stephen Hurt and Nigel Johnson, and are good (but not great) in most offensive categories. Thomas Gipson leads the team with 17.0 PPG and 6.7 RPG.

Marcus Foster will need a few big games to give Kansas State a Maui Invitational championship.

Marcus Foster will need a few big games to give Kansas State a Maui Invitational championship.

Opening Game Preview: The Wildcats will face Purdue today and if they win they will face the winner of the Missouri/Arizona game tomorrow. Purdue is 3-0 but hasn’t been tested, with wins over Samford, IUPUI, and Grambling State. The Boilermakers are led by a trio of players averaging double-figures, center Isaac Haas (11.3 PPG), forward Kendall Stephens (13.3 PPG), and guard Vince Edwards (13.7 PPG). KenPom, however, shows us that sophomore guard Bryson Scott is the focal point of Purdue’s offense. He leads the team with a usage rate of 29.8 percent, meaning that nearly a third of Purdue’s possessions have ended because of Scott’s activity. Expect to see the ball in Scott’s hands more than anyone else today — through three games, he is averaging 6.7 PPG with a 35.7 shooting percentage.

Key Resume Opportunities: Kansas State will need to win its opening game if it wants better opportunities to build its resume, and there are a few great resume-building wins available in Maui this week. A Monday win against Purdue likely means a meeting with No. 2 Arizona tomorrow. That’s the best opportunity, but a win over San Diego State down the line could help Kansas State as well. The Aztecs are very likely to end the season in the RPI top 50. Come to think of it, BYU is currently ninth in ESPN’s RPI, and we all know how the NCAA Tournament committee loves examining a team’s record against that metric. That’s what makes today’s game against Purdue so important — a subsequent loser’s bracket game against Missouri wouldn’t do much for the Wildcats, and who knows what that side of the bracket will look like in three days.

Outlook: Kansas State has more talent than Purdue but we saw just a few days ago against Long Beach State that they can get beat by an inferior opponent. Thomas Gipson needs to continue to perform at his current level and Marcus Foster needs to start playing like the First-Team All-Big 12 player he was projected. If both players perform well today, Kansas State should get a match-up with the athletic group at Arizona. I don’t see the Big 12’s Wildcats beating their Pac-12 counterparts, though, as Sean Miller’s squad is just too deep and talented. Best case scenario, Kansas State beats Purdue, plays Arizona close tomorrow, and then beats one of BYU, Pittsburgh or San Diego State in the third place game on Wednesday. Kansas State is certainly capable of that and a 2-1 record would be considered a successful trip to the islands.

KoryCarpenter (150 Posts)

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