Feb 16, 2019; Manhattan, KS, USA; Iowa State Cyclones guard Talen Horton-Tucker (11) shoots against Kansas State Wildcats forward Dean Wade (32) during the first half at Bramlage Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Location: Kansas City, Mo.
TV: ESPN or ESPN2
KenPom Prediction: 66-65, Iowa State
1 – Without Wade
The Wildcats were able to pass their first test without first-team All-Big 12 forward Dean Wade on Thursday when they dispatched TCU in the Big 12 quarterfinals.
On the bright side, this is far from the first time Kansas State has had to play without Wade, who averaged 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds in 25 games during the regular season, as it made its run to the Elite Eight last season without the 6-foot-10 senior. On the downside, Wade is a crucial piece of Kansas State’s offense, specifically his ability to stretch the floor.
Iowa State was able to pull away from the Wildcats during their win in Manhattan last month after Wade tweaked his previously injured foot and had to leave the game. His absence will most likely be felt more against the Cyclones than it was against the Horned Frogs.
2 – More Momentum
This is far from the first time this season Iowa State has been able to come out and take control of momentum by easily winning a key game. Again, just look at that win in Bramlage Coliseum.
The problem is every time the Cyclones have appeared to be reaching the mountaintop of their potential, they’ll get hit in the mouth the next time they hit the court and fall back into unrest. Steve Prohm‘s squad was clicking on all cylinders in Thursday’s dominant win over Baylor, but can they follow that up with a similar performance a little more than 24 hours later?
“That’s the challenge of our job,” Prohm said on Thursday. “Really hit him in the head about, ‘Hey guys, every time this year, we’ve tried to climb the mountain top, a perfect example is the home game against TCU when the ratings came out, we got hit and we didn’t respond.’”
Kansas State is too experienced and too talented to let Iowa State walk all over them on this sort of stage. The Cyclones will need to play with the same mentality they did against the Bears.
They were the tougher team in the quarterfinals. The same needs to be said about Friday night if they’re going to move into Saturday’s championship game.
3 – Brown Remembers
There were few games more humbling for the Wildcats on their way to being crowned co-Big 12 champions than the 78-64 loss to Iowa State in Bramlage Coliseum. The Cyclones were lights out shooting the basketball and made Kansas State’s highly-touted defense look elementary at times.
For this reason, you can guarantee Kansas State will enter Friday’s contest with a chip on its shoulder the size of the state of Kansas.
“They’re a good team. We’re really going to have to lock into what they do and their personnel. They came into Bramlage last time and got a win,” star senior guard Barry Brown said on Thursday. “So we kinda got that sick taste in our mouth and we have to do everything possible and everything necessary in order for us to come out with a victory.”
Iowa State looked like a team on a mission during Thursday’s domination of Baylor. Kansas State has looked like a team on a mission ever since Wade returned from injury the first time and the Wildcats promptly stole a victory in Hilton Coliseum.
Each team won on the other’s home court and it seems fitting the rubber match comes in Kansas City. One is the most experienced and toughest team in the league. The other is arguably the league’s most talented team looking to put a rocky end to the regular season behind it.
What more can you ask for in March?