Through two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, the chip still remains on Kansas State’s shoulder.
The Wildcats, who play with an “everyone’s against us” mentality, have arguably been one of the most impressive teams of the 65-team field.
They had little trouble dispatching with North Texas, winning by 20 points. Then after a 10-0 deficit to start the game against Brigham Young -- we attribute that to bad thoughts put into their head by seeing that KU lost in the game before them -- the Wildcats dominated the remainder of the game for a 12-point victory.
And with No. 3 Pittsburgh being upset by Xavier on Sunday on their side of the bracket, you have to greatly like the Wildcats’ chances in the Sweet 16, with Syracuse the probable opponent in the Elite Eight.
Those who follow the Big 12 regularly know just how tough the Wildcats have been this year, but now they’re becoming a major player on the national scene.
Frank Martin is about to become a household name among national coaches. We used to think his raging outbursts at his players were detrimental, but after listening to their side of the story, it seems that they feed off his stark-mad ravings.
What the Wildcats have over almost every team left is top-flight guard play, which is starting to look like the barometer of how far a team will go in the tournament.
Just ask Kansas. Its highly decorated backcourt of Sherron Collins and Tyshawn Taylor combined to go a miserable 4 of 20 Saturday against Northern Iowa, which went a long way toward the Jayhawks’ shocking early dismissal from the tournament.
Jacob Pullen is playing at an NBA level and so far has been the best guard in the tournament, not just because of his points, but also because of his defense. Denis Clemente is player nobody can match up with because of his speed and while his shot selection leaves a little to be desired, he combines with Pullen for a devastating 1-2 punch.
Martin skillfully rotates a plethora of big men upfront and each has a role. Dominique Sutton and Luis Colon play for their defense, while Curtis Kelly, Jamar Samuels and Wally Judge are more offensive oriented. What all have in common is their length and tenacity, as they know if they take a play off, Martin will give them the hook.
If KSU and Syracuse do indeed meet in the Elite Eight, the winning coach could very well be the National Coach of the Year. Jim Boeheim has received plaudits for his job and many believe the Orangemen are the best team in the country.
If you’d told us before the season the Wildcats would go farther than KU in the NCAA Tournament, we’d called for a sobriety check. But all the credit goes to Martin and his players, who continue to play the no-respect card to collect big pots.