We’re just four days away from the official opening to the 2012-13 college basketball season as schools will be able to start officially practicing Friday night. Before then, though, we’re going to take a look at the various pre-conference tournaments that have become synonymous with the first month of college basketball. Nearly every Big 12 school is competing in one of those tournaments this season and we’ll take time each day this week to preview each bracket, from Hawaii to Puerto Rico to New York City. On Tuesday we took a look at Texas and Kansas. Today, it’s Kansas State and new head coach Bruce Weber.
NIT Season-Tip Off
Dates: November 12-13, November 21, November 23
Location: Campus sites and Madison Square Garden
Major Teams: Michigan, Cleveland State, Pittsburgh, Lehigh, Robert Morris, Kansas State, North Texas, Virginia, Delaware
Bruce Weber is Firmly on the Hot Seat; How Will his Team Respond? (AP Photo/M. Conroy)
There’s no acclimation period for Bruce Weber at Kansas State. No rebuilding project, no waiting game, and, most importantly, no excuses for the Wildcats not to reach Madison Square Garden in the NIT Season Tip-Off this November. Weber, whose Illinois program slowly crumbled and led to his eventual dismissal, found a terrific gig in Manhattan and inherits an experienced roster capable of immediate results. That’s both a blessing and a burden. With an All-Big 12 wing in Rodney McGruder, strong guards, good depth and a defensive mentality already instilled by Frank Martin, it would be a colossal disappointment not to reach at least the semifinals. That’s a tough expectation, though, since Tony Mitchell and North Texas presumably await the Wildcats after an opening round game against Lamar. Kansas State would play this “Midwest Championship” at Bramlage Coliseum, but the Mean Green have the best player on the floor and seem primed for a big year after underachieving a bit with its young talent a year ago.
If Kansas State can slip by North Texas, it’s not necessarily an underdog compared to the rest of the PNIT field. At the top of the bracket, Michigan will play the role of the heavy favorite, thanks to that star-laden backcourt and return of Trey Burke. The top-seeded Wolverines could potentially face Pittsburgh in the semifinals, a program looking to rebound from an unprecedented down season on the shoulders of Tray Woodall and notable transfer Trey Zeigler. At the bottom of the bracket, second-seeded Virginia’s defense should be light years ahead of everybody else, but Tony Bennett’s team may struggle to find its offensive identity in November after losing Mike Scott. That could be one heck of a drag-it-out slugfest between KSU and Virginia in the semifinals at the Garden.
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