College Basketball: Why Kansas vs. Kansas State Is the Game to Watch This Week

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2013

LAWRENCE, KS - JANUARY 09:  Elijah Johnson #15 of the Kansas Jayhawks celebrates with fans as he leaves the court after the Jayhawks defeated the Iowa State Cyclones 97-89 at Allen Fieldhouse on January 9, 2013 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

After another spectacular weekend in college basketball, conference play continues this week with an in-state rivalry being played in the Big 12. 

Kansas (16-1, 4-0) at Kansas State (15-2, 4-0); Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET; ESPN3

While the biggest rival of the Kansas Jayhawks (the Missouri Tigers) left the Big 12 before the season, their second biggest rival is preparing to show them who the real contender to their conference throne is. 

The Jayhawks have been tested twice during Big 12 play already, and their biggest test will come on Tuesday night when they visit Kansas State. 

The Jayhawks escaped out of Austin on Saturday with a hard-fought 64-59 win over Texas.

Freshman Ben McLemore once again rescued the Jayhawks after dunking home a pass from senior Jeff Withey to extend the lead to five points. 

McLemore has come alive in the past month and has emerged as not just the best player on the Kansas roster, but the potential top pick in the 2013 NBA Draft as well. 

Kansas State possesses a talented guard on their roster as well, senior Rodney McGruder. 

The Wildcats leading scorer knows what it takes to defeat the Jayhawks; he was a sophomore on the team led by Jacob Pullen that defeated Kansas in Manhattan two years ago. 

McGruder is the only Wildcats player who averages a point total in double digits with 15.5 points per game.

In their four conference victories, Bruce Weber's team have let their opponents stay in the game with a . 

If they do the same thing on Tuesday night, the Jayhawks will be chomping at the bit to come back in the final minutes of the game. 

Kansas State needs the win more than their visitors, with the Wildcats looking to add to a resume that already includes wins over Florida and Oklahoma State.

For the Wildcats to take down their archrival, they will need plenty of players on their roster to step up and have career games.

Kansas gives any opponent a matchup problem with two strong big men in Withey and Kevin Young, an experienced defender in Travis Releford and a solid guard combination of McLemore and Elijah Johnson, which gets better by the game. 

The Wildcats have plenty of guards that accompany McGruder: Will Spradling and Angel Rodriguez are among the players who will be assigned with guarding the dangerous Jayhawks' guard duo.

The biggest defensive assignment on Tuesday night will be given to Thomas Gipson and Jordan Henriquez, who will both be responsible for guarding Withey and Young in the paint. 

The big men for the Wildcats do have some hope for containing Withey, who has not been the most consistent of players over the past few weeks. 

Against Temple and Baylor, the Jayhawks' senior center was held to just eight points due to horrific shooting from the field. 

If Gipson and Henriquez are able to control the offensive output of Withey in the paint, and McGruder comes up with a big game on offense, expect this game to go down to the wire. 

Kansas State are capable of pulling off the upset, but it will take a perfect performance in front of their home crowd in Manhattan to come out on top. 

For more insight on college basketball, follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90. 


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