NCAA Tournament Sleeper: Kansas State

JJ SSenior Writer IMarch 17, 2008

I have a hunch in this year's NCAA tournament.

His name is Michael Beasley.

Actually, he's more than a hunch. He's the Big 12 Player of the Year and the likely No. 1 overall pick in this year's NBA draft.

Beasley was third in the nation in scoring with 26.5 points per game and led the nation with 12.5 rebounds per game. He's a once-in-a-decade freak of nature at 6"10, 235 lbs., a physical power forward who can also step back and make 39 percent of his three-pointers, tops on the team. 

Beasley isn't the only good player on the Wildcats. Bill Walker averaged 15.8 PPG and 6.4 RPG to complement Beasley nicely.

A note of interest: I picked Texas to make some noise in the tournament simply because of a freshman, and look what they did: They lost to USC.

Crap. K-State plays USC in the first round.

Still, there's just something about Beasley that makes me think he'll play extremely well in the tournament.

Yes, Frank Martin is an inexperienced and all-around poor head coach. And yes, K-State has struggled since beating Kansas January 30th, going 5-7 in their final 12 games.

That stretch included losses to bottom-half Big 12 teams like Mizzou (which, ironically, was the one time I've seen K-State in person this year), Texas Tech, and Nebraska.

The Wildcats were also unable to pull off victories against Baylor, Texas, Kansas, and Texas A&M in that stretch. They fell from being a top-25 team to an 11-seed in the tournament.

So why am I picking K-State to upend USC and Wisconsin?

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure. I haven't followed my gut in the last couple of NCAA Tournaments, and it's landed me at the bottom of the pools I've been in—while the people who haven't watched a college basketball game all year get all the glory.

So, I'm taking what my gut tells me. And my gut tells me Kansas State. 

Here's hoping Michael Beasley doesn't forget his power towel.