(5) Kansas State vs. (12) Utah State
(5) Kansas State Wildcats
This season has been up and down for Frank Martin’s Kansas State Wildcats. Expectations were high coming into the season, but after a 2-5 stretch in Big 12 play they were starting to play themselves out of the tournament. Like the veteran team they are, they flipped the switch when they had to and closed the regular season with a six-game winning streak including wins over #1 Kansas, #21 Missouri and #8 Texas. Point guard Jacob Pullen makes the Wildcats go with his 19 points, three rebounds and three assists a night. Rodney McGruder has really stepped up in his sophomore year, while Curtis Kelly has regressed to a certain extent. He has been playing better as of late, though. With a record of 3-6 against the RPI Top 50 the Wildcats have proven to be vulnerable when they turn it over excessively and leave points at the free throw line.
ne Bruins are busy trying on lippers because they are primed to play the role of Cinderella. and defensively(12)((12) Utah State Aggies
One of just five teams in the country that enter the 2011 NCAA Tournament with at least 30 wins, Utah State earned an automatic bid by way of its 77-69 win over Boise State in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament championship on March 12. Senior forward Tai Wesley, the WAC Player of the Year, leads the team in points (14.7 per game), rebounds (8.0), blocks (1.1) and field goal percentage (.595). He was joined on the all-WAC team by guards Brockeith Pane (first team) and Brian Green (second team). Seniors Tyler Newborn and Pooh Williams are both very good perimeter defenders who help the Aggies rank third nationally in scoring defense (58.0) and sixth in field goal percentage defense (.383). Utah State enters the Big Dance at 30-3 with two of those losses coming on the road against current Top 25 teams, BYU and Georgetown.
HOOPSWORLD’s Pick: Kansas State. After faltering in the middle of the season, Kansas State and its star Jacob Pullen are playing solid basketball and will get by Utah State, into the second round.