Big 12 Previews

Kansas State vs. Montana State NCAA Tournament Preview and Prediction

NCAA Basketball: Texas Christian at Kansas State

Here is everything you need to know about the Kansas State Wildcats and the Montana State Bobcats in our NCAA Tournament men’s basketball preview and prediction.


East Region – First Round

Game Info: 8:30 p.m. CT, Friday, CBS


How They Got Here: Kansas State finished third in the Big 12 Conference with a record of 11-7, while Montana State beat Weber State to win the Big Sky Tournament.

Winner gets: A second-round game against the winner of the game between No. 6 Kentucky and No. 11 Providence.


Kansas State: G Markquis Nowell, G Cam Carter, G Desi Sills, F Keyontae Johnson, F Nae’Quan Tomlin

Montana State: G Darius Brown, G RaeQuan Battle, G Tyler Patterson, F Caleb Fuller, F Jubrile Belo



G Desi Sills: I know that the majority of folks would put Keyontae Johnson or Markquis Nowell in this spot but I want you to really ask yourself who brings the energy for K-State. Look no further than senior guard Desi Sills. Sills put on a defensive clinic against TCU snagging four key blocks and keeping TCU off the board. While he may not be the all-around scorer that Johnson and Nowell are, Sills can get a bucket at any time he wants. Sills provides the cats with an all-around playmaker which can be seen in games like the Oklahoma game March 1st in which Sills flirted with a triple double (15, 9, 8). Kansas State has been known to commit fouls and give up sloppy turnovers at times but with Montana State hungry to advance, I think Sills will be the one that brings the Bobcats back down to reality.


G RaeQuan Battle: While many Big 12 fans may not be familiar with Montana State’s squad, RaeQuan Battle is a big name to know. Battle has put up massive numbers this season in his final year with the Bobcats averaging career bests in points (17.4), assists (1.0), rebounds (2.9), and steals (1.0). Battle was named to the First-Team All-Big Sky club after leading the Bobcats to an overall record of 25-9. Battle presents a unique problem spot for Kansas State standing 6-foot-5 with incredible athleticism. If Battle gets out and running early for the Bobcats, the Wildcats may not be the cats leaving this fight.




I truly believe that you can count on one hand the amount of above average games that K-State played this season (harsh, I know). Outside of the Texas game on January 3rd, the Kansas game on January 17th, and the Oklahoma game on March 1st, the team has really struggled. I think that ends on Friday night. Part of the issue for the Wildcats comes from the fact that Big 12 teams have had the opportunity to face the duo of Johnson and Nowell and adjust their game plans accordingly. The duo of Johnson and Nowell both earned All-America Third Team honors for a reason and I think everyone out of the conference is going to learn how tough it is to defend the pair. I don’t think Montana State will be closing out on Nowell when he pulls up from the logo as well as face defending Keyontae Johnson on all phases of the court. I like the pair to show out and shine on a national level throughout the month of March.


Defense is key. K-State has been one of the sloppiest teams in college basketball with Markquis Nowell leading the country in turnovers. Montana State has a size advantage at multiple positions on the court and in the event they can capitalize on the Wildcats turnovers, beat them on the offensive boards, and slow down Johnson and Nowell, Montana State has a real chance to win this game. If there’s any need for further confirmation of that fact, Montana State has the smallest spread among all matchups between three-seeds and fourteen-seeds in the NCAA Tournament with the Wildcats being favored by eight-and-a-half points. It may look like a one-sided affair on paper, but from where I sit, the Bobcats have a shot.




In the matchup between which cat is better, I’m taking the wild ones. I believe Markquis Nowell, Keyontae Johnson, and NaeQuan Tomlin are going to be matchup nightmares for the Bobcats and while I expect RaeQuan Battle to put up some points, I like Desi Sills to keep him at bay. Wildcats win big and earn Jerome Tang’s first NCAA Tournament win with Kansas State.

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