Coming into the season everyone knew the Baylor at Kansas State matchup tonight in Bramlage Coliseum on Big Monday would be an important one. As everyone knows now the importance is not for position at the top of the Big 12 standings or positioning for a high NCAA Tournament seed but simply to help bolster their resume for the NCAA Tourney.
K-State now sits at 13-7 after their recent road loss at Texas A&M that dropped their Big 12 record to a 1-4 in the conference. Baylor is 13-5 overall with a 3-2 conference record after they blew out Oklahoma State this past Saturday.
Prior to the blowout victory on Saturday the Bears had lost two conference games by a total of 35 points to Iowa State and Kansas. In the KU game, Baylor's zone defense looked to be very exploitable.K-State on the other hand usually plays solid defense but has periods where their offense simply goes away.
As is the case with most every basketball game the big men will determine this one. Perry Jones was a beast against the Cowboys with 24 points and 8 rebounds. If Jones can continue his solid play combined with Quincy Acy this will allow LaceDarius Dunn more room from deep as Dunn has struggled creating his own shot at times this year.
Curtis Kelly was impressive for K-State also on Saturday as he easily played his best game of the conference season with 15 points and 11 rebounds. If Kelly can put together back to back solid efforts it would go a long way towards K-State possibly reclaiming their season.
The player who will need to have an impact if K-State hopes to have any chance of winning is Rodney McGruder. In the last two games McGruder has scored a total of 4 points after having four straight games where he scored in double figures.
The Wildcats enter the game as a 5.5 point favorite but if anyone thinks they can predict the winner between these two teams with a high amount of confidence they might be crazy. All possibilities are out there for this game as it would not be surprising to see a blowout by either team or a game that is back and forth.
K-State may feel the pressure of NEEDING to win this game as their next contest is on the road against Kansas next Saturday. Baylor on the other hand has Colorado and Oklahoma in their next two games.
If KSU loses this game they face an almost certainty of going 1-6 in conference play to start the year and the NIT definitely happening.
The game tonight is on ESPN with a tip time of 8 P.M. central time.