Fresh off their upset of #21 Oklahoma State, the TCU Horned Frogs return to the hardwood tonight to face the Kansas State Wildcats. A TCU win would start the program's first ever Big 12 winning streak. For the Wildcats, a win would keep their NIT hopes alive. Kansas State enters the game having lost five of their last six games, however the Wildcats upset #17 Oklahoma in their last contest. To preview tonight's affair, I caught up with TheBigE from Bring on the Cats.
1. The first meeting between TCU and Kansas State sparked a four-game winning streak for the Wildcats that briefly put Kansas State atop the Big 12 Standings. Since then, the ‘Cats are 2-6 and in 8th place in the Big 12. At this point, what are your expectations for the rest of the season?
Expectations are probably what I would call "realistic". Not low for the sake of being low, but the reality is, we've got @TCU, @BAY, KU, ISU, @UT left on the schedule. Out of that list, I think we've got a shot against any of those games (yes, even at home against KU), but given the way things have gone this year, 0-5 is a possibility. 3-2 would blow expectations out of the water, but wouldn't cause you to be put in a straight jacket for positing that it could happen. I would say expectations at this point would be a 1-4 or 2-3 finish, a possible second-round appearance in the Big 12 tourney, and a second-round bow-out in the NIT. That's what our profile says we are, anyway.
2. Bruce Weber has certainly had his ups and downs during his time at Kansas State. How would you evaluate Weber's tenure as Head Coach up until this point? How do Wildcat fans feel about him moving forward?
Bruce's tenure so far seems to be following the track of his previous stop at Illinois - wins decently with his first couple years using primarily someone else's recruits, then regresses to mediocrity once he's been there a couple years. Whether Weber's maxed out his capability, or we're just mired in a cluster of a season that clearly isn't meeting expectations...well, that's up for debate. #EMAW is very much split on the matter, but there is becoming more and more unrest with Weber. I've personally noted some pretty significant shortcomings with his X & O coaching, which was supposedly his strong suit. This has been a tough season for a lot of different reasons, and Weber is partially to blame for the problems.
3. It has been nearly six weeks since the first matchup between these two purple-clad Big 12 programs. In the time since then, who has improved and regressed on this team? Which Wildcats have stepped their game up during Big 12 play?
I would say Nino Williams has certainly become a more consistent ballplayer, save his knee injury a couple weeks ago in our first WVU tilt. Wesley Iwundu has also stepped up a bit more, albeit not a world-beater by stats in any shape or form. If one person has regressed, I would argue it's been Thomas Gipson, but not necessarily because of his doing. With Marcus Foster sitting the bench due to suspension, Gip became much more of the focal point of the offense. That's not really his role, so defenses were able to really key on him and shut him down. And our point guard duo of Jevon Thomas and Nigel Johnson is barely serviceable, so I can't really say they've "regressed" per se.
4. Tonight's game features two teams hanging around the bottom of the pack in the Big 12. For the Frogs, the game provides the opportunity to continue to build on Saturday's upset win over Oklahoma State. What does this game mean for Kansas State? How important is it for the ‘Cats to take care of business on the road?
For K-State, it's one of the last legitimate chances for a win in Big 12 play. This game means a lot simply because any road win in Big 12 play means a lot this year, and any win period means a lot for the pride and continued growth for this team. But as far as any post-season implications? Nah, this game doesn't mean a whole lot for the Wildcats.
5. Finally, what is your prediction for Wednesday night's game? Does Kansas State continue their momentum from Saturday's upset win over Oklahoma? Or do the Frogs beat Kansas State for the first time since 1999 to capture the program's first ever Big 12 winning streak?
I think K-State can come out of Fort Worth with a win, but it'll be tough fought. The Wildcats, believe it or not, have been playing with some consistency lately, but they just missed enough firepower to really earn wins against good teams with Marcus Foster out. With Foster on the floor, the Wildcats have the offensive options to find scoring from a handful of different players, just enough to squeak one out. I don't see the game getting out of the 60s, and I don't think the point spread will be more than 5 or 6 for either team at any given time. For prediction's sake, I'll say K-State takes it 67-62.
Special thanks to TheBigE, Jon Morse, and the team at Bring on the Cats. Look for continued coverage of TCU vs. Kansas State right here leading up this evening's game.