Mac Stevenson
Wichita State and Cincinnati proved Saturday that the American Athletic Conference has two formidable teams to compete in the NCAA Tournament. The Bearcats defeated the Shockers 62-61 in a thrilling game that made Cincinnati the AAC champion.
It was a physical game from start to finish and it’s likely these two teams will meet again in the finals of the AAC Tournament this week. Wichita State has been playing well with two notable exceptions: forward Markis McDuffie and guard Austin Reaves have recently played substandard basketball. Coach Gregg Marshall needs for these two to turn it around before the NCAA Tournament.
Kansas State’s basketball team won a crucial game last Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum, beating Baylor 77-67. The Wildcats were led by Dean Wade, who played a sensational game. Wade scored 25 points on 9 of 14 field goals and had 7 rebounds. Wade is playing superb basketball when it counts the most.
The Baylor win should have clinched an at-large bid for the upcoming NCAA Tournament, regardless of how K-State does in the Big 12 Tournament. The Wildcats finished regular-season Big 12 play with a 10-8 record and were 21-10 overall. Considering the balance of the Big 12, there’s no doubt Kansas State will be present at the Big Dance.
Coach Bruce Weber agrees and said, “You finish fourth in the best league in the country, I’ve got to believe you’re in. But you can go to Kansas City and put an exclamation point on it and keep it moving forward.”
Weber has his team hitting their peak at just the right time. Guard Barry Brown has been terrific on offense and defense; point guard Kamau Stokes was effective against Baylor; forward Makol Mawien continues to improve, and he’s beginning to take some of the pressure off Wade in the pivot.
It’s not too soon for Wildcat fans to begin worrying about whether or not Wade is going to leave early for the NBA; he has the necessary tools to be very successful with the pros and his play this season sets him up as a high draft choice. K-State will have everyone back IF Wade returns and the Wildcats will be highly rated in the Big 12.
Big 12 champion Kansas was humiliated (82-64) in their regular-season finale against Oklahoma State. It wasn’t hard to see that one coming. O-State was vying for an NCAA at-large bid and it was Seniors’ Night for the Cowboys. KU had everything to lose and nothing to gain.
The most telling statistic in the game was KU committing 17 turnovers to just 7 for O-State. No excuses are necessary: Kansas was simply outhustled and outplayed in every facet of the game. Coach Bill Self summed it up succinctly, “We don’t put fear in anybody . . . we used to play people and there was doubt before they played us—whether or not they could play with us. There’s not that doubt this year.”
Next up for the Jayhawks is the ridiculous postseason Big 12 Tournament that will send tired teams to the NCAA Tournament. And the players will risk injuries just before the most important games of the season. It’s great for the fans, but it’s certainly an ill-conceived event to have right after the just-completed conference race.
KU is the number-one seed. The winner of the OU-O-State game will play the Jayhawks on Thursday (March 8) at 1:30 p.m. on ESPN2. The guess here is that it will be O-State-KU again; that would show what the Jayhawks are made of, meaningless game or not.
The Kansas City Chiefs traded one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, Marcus Peters, and received very little in return—second- and fourth-round draft picks. It’s obvious that the reason for this trade was Peters’ worsening penchant for making all kinds of trouble; the most noteworthy of his behavior issues was Peters’ refusal to stand for the national anthem before games. That’s where KC’s owner and Chairman of the Board Clark Hunt drew a red line in the sand, and he backed it up.
Having a guy like Marcus Peters on your ballclub is going to cause way too many problems—despite his talent—over the long haul. Peters is exceptional on pass coverage, but he was the poorest tackler on the team.
It’s pure speculation here, but it appears that not many NFL teams wanted the trouble-making Peters in their locker room; otherwise, KC could have gotten a much better deal in the trade. The guy doesn’t honor America, so let’s say a fond adieu this way, “Goodbye Mr. Peters, sorry you disowned our country; don’t let the door hit you on the butt on your way out.”