(4) Kansas St. vs. (13) La Salle
(4) Kansas State Wildcats
This is the third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament for the Wildcats (27-7, 17-4). During that stretch, they’ve won at least a game each appearance, with their 2010 run to the Elite Eight matching a program best. They score just under 70 points a game, led by senior guard Rodney McGruder. McGruder is the team’s top scorer (15.3) and rebounder (5.3). Sophomore guard Angel Rodriguez joins him in the backcourt to form a pretty solid duo. Wildcats head coach Bruce Weber is using an extensive rotation in his first year at the helm of the program, playing as many 10 guys on most occasions. They work very well together, averaging 16 assists as a team. They’re tough on the defensive end, ranking in the top 40 nationally in points allowed (60). They’re aggressive on that end of the floor, but have the depth to withstand the foul trouble that can sometimes come with always playing intense defense. They played the 66th toughest schedule in the country and had he 20th ranked RPI. They went 5-6 against the RPI top 50 and were a perfect 20-0 against teams outside of the top 50. Their best wins came against Florida, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.
(13) La Salle Explorers
The last time the Explorers (21-9, 11-5) were dancing was way back in 1992. There were sweating whether or not they were going to be able to put an end to that streak, but ultimately the committee gave them the node. The Explorers played the 77th toughest schedule in the country and had a top 50 RPI. They went 2-3 against teams in the same range, knocking off Butler and VCU in their best wins of the season. The Explorers are led by senior guard Ramon Galloway, who leads the team with 17 points, 3.8 assist and two steals a game. He’s not their only potent offensive threat, though, as Tyreek Duren averages 15., Tyrone Garland (12.9) and Jerrell Wright (10.3) also average double figures. The Explorers scored 72.9 a game on average, but their defensive is somewhat susceptible. They allow 65 points a game on 45 percent shooting from the field and were outrebounded by two on average this season.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Kansas State. The Wildcats will be able to get what they want offensively against La Salle.