Big 12 Tournament Preview: TCU vs. Kansas State
Here is everything you need to know about the TCU Horned Frogs and the Kansas State Wildcats in our Horned Frogs vs. Wildcats Big 12 Tournament men’s basketball preview.
No. 6 TCU (20-11, 9-9) vs. No. 3 Kansas State (23-8, 11-7), 8:30 p.m. CT, Thursday (time is dependent on completion of Game 4), ESPN2
Season series (1-1): TCU def. Kansas State, 82-68, in Fort Worth, Texas, on Jan. 14; Kansas State def. TCU, 82-61, in Manhattan, Kan., on Feb. 7.
Winner gets: a Friday semifinal game against the winner of Game 5 at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
Projected starting lineups
TCU: G Mike Miles Jr., G Damion Baugh, F Chuck O’Bannon, F Emanuel Miller, F Xavier Cork.
Kansas State: G Markquis Nowell, G Desi Sills, F Keyontae Johnson, F David N’Guessan, F Nae’Qwan Tomlin.
Player to watch
G Mike Miles Jr.: As Miles goes, so go the Horned Frogs. We’ve learned that much, especially after Miles had to leave the lineup for a few weeks due to injury and the Horned Frogs took a tumble. Miles was on the Heartland College Sports All-Big 12 First Team and the All-Big 12 Coaches Second team after averaging 17.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. Miles had 17 points in the Horned Frogs’ final game, a loss to Oklahoma, on Saturday.
G Markquis Nowell: Nowell was the Heartland College Sports Player of the Year selection and the Big 12 Coaches named him to both the First Team and the All-Defensive Team. He had a huge season by any measure, averaging 17 points, 7.7 assists and a Big 12-leading 2.5 steals per game. He was a primary component in the Wildcats’ incredible turnaround this season, as they appear headed for a high seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Horned Frogs have never had expectations like they had this season, and they managed them well considering they finished .500 in Big 12 play. TCU scored some big wins, including a 23-point blowout of Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse. TCU also absorbed some big losses, including a four-game losing streak after losing Miles to injury. That included three straight losses to ranked teams. The Horned Frogs won three of their last five entering the Big 12 Tournament, and last season they beat Texas in the quarterfinals.
After Kansas State left last year’s Big 12 Tournament after the first round, Bruce Weber resigned as coach a day later. The Wildcats brought in Jerome Tang, Baylor’s top assistant, and he re-energized the program, leading to his selection as both the HCS and the coaches Big 12 Coach of the Year. He quickly rebuilt the program around Nowell and a key transfer, forward Keyontae Johnson. Kansas State started 4-0 in Big 12 play, survived a lull in February that saw the Wildcats lose five of seven before winning four of their final five going into Kansas City. The Wildcats will be a Top 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Kansas State 84, TCU 81. It will be the last game of Thursday night and it will be a wild one. Both teams love to run and it will go right down to the wire.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.