ESPN Writer ‘Fading’ Iowa State, Kansas State Ahead of March Madness
With March Madness approaching, many have been wondering which teams are title contenders, and which are pretenders.
ESPN’s Dalen Cuff wrote an article outlining which teams he thinks everyone should buy in on, and who they should fade this season. Five Big 12 teams made appearances on the list including Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Texas, and Iowa State, with each team being evaluated and placed into three different categories.
The three categories included in Cuff’s list buy, fade, and sprinkle. Each category is pretty self-explanatory with buy being teams to invest in, fade being teams to abandon, and sprinkle being mid-ground where things are still pretty up in the air.
In order that each team appears on Cuff’s list the first team mentioned is the Kansas Jayhawks and understandably, Cuff is buying the squad from Lawrence.
“No one has repeated as national champions since the 2006 and ’07 Florida Gators. This Kansas team has proved it could do it. The Jayhawks have 14 Quad 1 wins while no other team in the country has more than 10,” Cuff said.
Next up were the Texas Longhorns, where Cuff’s verdict was a bit undecided. Cuff chose to sprinkle Texas saying, “I think Texas is undervalued here. They’re close to the recipe I mentioned before, ranked in the top 25 in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency. They’re an old team with lots of experience and have depth including Sir’Jabari Rice, who’s the most productive sixth man in the country.”
The next team to check into the list are the Baylor Bears. Cuff highlighted the fact that Baylor has the most dynamic backcourt in the country and elite scorers in Adam Flagler, LJ Cryer, and Keyonte George, however with George’s injury status and lack of defensive proficiency, Cuff ultimately decided to fade the Bears.
“The problem is they don’t defend well enough. While the Bears have solid bigs, that is not enough to make up for the lack of desire and efficiency when playing defense. This team could make a run to Houston, but taking the Bears to cut the nets down is just too lopsided.”
The Iowa State Cyclones who have seemingly hit a wall as of late immediately fell into the fade category on Cuff’s list citing the lack of scoring and dynamic playmakers as a potential problem spot for the Cyclones.
“They wreak havoc and create a ton of turnovers, but if they don’t score off them, the Cyclones struggle to generate offense. They may win a few games in the tournament but they’re not going to beat elite teams that have developed much more over the course of the season.”
The last team mentioned in the article is the Kansas State Wildcats. Cuff spoke highly of head coach Jerome Tang mentioning that he should be the national coach of the year this season but pointed out that the bunch struggles when teams slow down point guard Markquis Nowell.
“Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson are studs. Johnson has been one of the best stories in college basketball since his collapse on the court over two years ago while playing at Florida. That said, the teams that have figured out how to stop Nowell, have limited Kansas State at times. They still struggle against the really good teams in the country.”
It’s called March Madness for a reason and whether analysts agree or disagree with team projections and evaluations, any team can be in trouble of getting upset. With two more games left in the Big 12 college basketball season, we should get a better idea of who is the real deal and who is just happy to be here during the Big 12 Tournament.