Watch Out For Kansas State

Max GrossCorrespondent IDecember 30, 2009

OKLAHOMA CITY - MARCH 12:  Guard Denis Clemente #21 of the Kansas State Wildcats takes a shot against Dogus Balbay #4 of the Texas Longhorns during the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship Quarterfinals at the Ford Center March 12, 2009 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

     Kansas State could be college basketball's best kept secret. The Wildcats only got a hint of publicity when Miami transfer Denis Clemente went off for 44 points against Texas in the season's biggest upset. Now ranked #12 in both the AP and Coaches poll as the Big 12 season is about to start, the Wildcats have gained national interest with their 12-1 record.

            Currently riding a 9-game winning streak, scoring has not been a problem. Averaging 82.9 ppg as a team, including four players in double figures. In that group of four, only one player is a Senior G Denis Clemente 14.2 ppg, two Junior's F Curtis Kelly 11.7 ppg and G Jacob Pullen 19.8 ppg and one Sophmore F Jamar Samuels 11.8 ppg. This balanced scoring has given them success now and will give them success in the future.

            Speaking of the future K-State loses only one impact Senior G Denis Clemente, but they gain two incredible recruits Shane Southwell and Will Spradling. Southwell is a versatile SF from the Bronx and is the #21 SF in the nation. Spradling a PG from Overland Park, KS, is a born leader and has incredible 3-pt range. These two recruits along with all of the returning stars, will give Head Coach Frank Martin a variety of talent to lead his team.

            The Wildcats will have a tough conference schedule this year, playing #1 Kansas (twice) and at #24 Texas Tech, but the Wildcats avoid having to make tough road trips to #2 Texas and Oklahoma State. With Kansas and Texas #1 and #2 in the polls people will forget about Kansas State, but with a win over either Kansas or Texas in each of the last four seasons KU and Texas could be on upset alert. This could mean a surprising second place finish in conference for KSU.

            The last time K-State was in the NCAA tournament was 2008, when they were carried to the round of 32 on the shoulders of Michael Beasley. Frank Martin's team has been to the NIT a few times, but won't be satisfied with anything short of the NCAA tournament. The depth of the roster could be a key component to making it to the late rounds of the tournament. Instead of being carried by a star player that has to do most of the work, the Wildcats balanced scoring will make them hard to stop.

            The Wildcats have no problem getting to the Free Throw line with 450 attempts already (1st in NCAA) but they have a weak percentage (65.1%). Free Throw shooting could be the only weakness of this emerging Big 12 power. Look for K-State to keep up what they have been doing and give Kansas and Texas a struggle for the Big 12 championship.