The Cats also sit very high in the projected RPI--currently #1 in RealTimeRPI's daily RPI. What a difference a year makes. The RPI woes that ultimately kept the Cats out of the NCAA tournament last year are nowhere to be found this year. Barring a complete meltdown in conference play--unlikely thanks to the easy pickings presented by the Big XII North other than KU--the Cats are now playing for seeding.
Watching this K-State team play calls to mind the Bob Huggins Cincinnati teams that used to be featured regularly mid-week on ESPN. Like those teams, this K-State squad plays tough, ball-pressuring defense that keeps it in the game even when its offense is struggling. Eventually, someone starts hitting some shots, K-State opens up about a 10-point lead, and keeps the opposing team at arms-length the rest of the way.
Like those Cincinnati teams, it ain't usually pretty:
K-State plays the ugliest games in D-I.
And while we’re on the topic of impressively-located wins, Kansas State stomped on previously undefeated UNLV 95-80 in Vegas on Saturday night. Jacob Pullen scored 28 points for the Wildcats while hitting a Juan Fernandez-like 7-of-10 threes. Note additionally that Frank Martin’s team needed just 74 possessions to flirt with the century mark. Highly-efficient ‘Cats of Manhattan, I salute you!
Now, about the fouling, both your own and your opponents’. Wow. I remember two seasons ago when Michael Beasley was still in residence and in occasional foul trouble, Martin was borderline-brilliant in how he used each and every whistle to either yank Beasley or put him in the game on a possession-by-possession basis. It was like the coach had discovered how to make basketball more like baseball and make Beasley the equivalent of a designated hitter, at least when he was in foul trouble. Fast-forward to now and I sometimes wonder if the K-State coach simply got into that habit and has been instructing his team ever since to draw a foul on every offensive possession and commit one on every defensive trip.
K-State is now being touted as the third-best team in the Big XII this year by many observers. It will be interesting to see how the Cats respond to the positive attention they've been receiving and if they can continue their success as the favorites, rather than as the chip-on-the-shoulder underdogs.