March Madness: Kansas State Wildcats Fall To Iowa State, Lose No. 1 Seed?

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March Madness: Kansas State Wildcats Fall To Iowa State, Lose No. 1 Seed?
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Unbelievable.

I’m still in a slight state of shock right now, but I feel like I’ll sleep better if I take a stab at analyzing what we can take from this game and where Kansas State goes from here.

First of all, let me say that I was unreasonably confident that Kansas State would win for most of the game. First half struggles? See Colorado, Nebraska and Missouri. Not a problem. Ice-cold perimeter shooting? This team is smart enough to use its favorable matchups inside (wrong).

I was growing concerned when it was still a two-three possession game when under five minutes left, but when Denis Clements hit that three to tie it, a huge part of my brain told me this game was over. After all, this is Iowa State, a team that has made an entire season of losing close games, and they’re only this close because they outhustled a Kansas State team that wasn’t 100 percent focused yet.

Then Brackins fouled out, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought the Wildcats couldn’t possibly lose a five-minute game to a 14-16 team without its star, who should be second team All-Big 12. Wrong again.

I think the part where I changed my mind was probably somewhere between the realization that Kansas State wasn’t adjusting to the obvious strategy of Iowa State screening to get Samuels on Garrett, and the eye-opening revelation that Clemente and Pullen couldn’t get a decent shot against those annoying Cyclone guards and weren’t willing to look hard for the big men. Curtis Kelly missed one shot all game! Give him the ball!

Anyway, we all saw what happened. Kansas State managed to lose to a terrible team, while shooting nine more free throws and making about 15 percent better than their season average. It got outrebounded by a team that is tenth in the Big 12 in rebounding (oddly, third in conference-only games, to be fair) on senior night, on its home floor.

Sources tell me that Frank skipped his usual postgame radio interview and no one came out of the locker room until about 90 minutes after the game. That sounds about right.

That’s enough of that, so now I want to turn to a painful but fair question asked by Hiphopopotamus * in the comments section of my last post. He asked: “was today cause for legitimate concern, or just one of those days?”

Upon spelling out this name, for the first time I took a close look at it and realized the clever play on words. Props to you, sir.

Certainly, it’s a bit alarming that Kansas State’s offense was fairly terrible for the third straight game, although at least they got 13 assists. Also, it’s a real concern that they continue to get absolutely no production from the bench.

For senior day and complete lack of talent based reasons, Dominique Sutton and Jamar Samuels count as starters, while Colon and Merrieweather are bench players. To underscore that point, Colon and Merrieweather played 16 and 8 minutes, respectively. Sutton and Samuels played 27 and 29.

However, for two reasons, I’m going to look through my purple-shaded glasses and say that Kansas State’s going to be OK.

First, I have to believe that Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente will not be shooting 3-21 from three-point range again anytime soon. I wish I could explain why it happened tonight, but this is like Kanye West’s massive botching of his set at Bonnaroo. It won’t happen again, and they’ll redeem themselves. Indianapolis is kind of close to Chicago.

Second, Kansas State lost this game largely due to the fact that they were outhustled. This one’s even harder to explain, considering it was senior night, but Frank probably blew a couple gaskets after the game that will hopefully prevent this from being a problem. Plus, I would think these guys would like a Big 12 championship and realize how important every game is from here on out.

That’s about all I can do for tonight. One final note of irony: Kansas State came into the night with free throw shooting as one of its biggest weaknesses (and it’s still a major concern for the postseason), but at one point made 20 in a row. Jacob Pullen even made one when he was trying to miss. Ay caramba.

There’s still a lot to be said about what this does to K-State’s tournament seeding, their psyche, and the scouting report for the Big 12 tournament, and even Frank Martin’s late-game coaching abilities, but they don’t play until Thursday. That leaves us* plenty of time.

P.S. Iowa State, I apologize for underestimating you. You do deserve some credit, and you really could be a good team in the not-too-distant future. Greg McDermott appears to be on the right track.

This article was written by hongabear of Ahearn Alley .

Follow Ahearn Alley on Twitter: @AhearnAlley

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