Take this as a “P.S.” on the nonconference preview from the other day.
Frank Martin’s Wildcats got another big win last night, 81-64 over Gonzaga. Earlier, Duke beat Marquette 82-77 in its own CBE semifinal game. So tonight, K-State seizes the spotlights and challenges the top-ranked and defending champion Duke Blue Devils at the Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City.
The national interest for this game should be high, as it’s the first Top 5 matchup of the season. This is certainly a major game for each team. Duke would be commended for beating a fast-paced, athletic Wildcat team in front of a pro-KSU crowd. KSU would convince any haters/doubters of its own legitimacy with a win over Duke.
It’ll be interesting to see if Kansas State can assert itself in rebounding. Both of Duke’s primary forwards, Mason Plumlee and Kyle Singler, are active rebounders, along with Nolan Smith out of the backcourt. You can also expect Duke, traditionally a strong defensive team, to give the Wildcats their biggest test yet in freeing Jacob Pullen to score. We’ve wondered here how Kansas State’s offense would look without Clemente. Any major issues from that would likely be exposed tonight.
KSU’s defense will also be extended, as Duke is currently shooting nearly 43% from 3-point range. However, four of Duke’s starters played at least 32 minutes last night in order to hold off Marquette. No Wildcat played more than 29 minutes Monday.
Prediction: Kansas State 79-76, but the Wildcats must limit Mason Plumlee’s rebounding.
TV: 9 p.m. Central, ESPN2