As I famous in final Wednesday’s version of the CBS Sports activities Prime 25 And 1, Kansas State was picked to complete on the backside of the Huge 12 standings in a preseason ballot by the league’s 10 head coaches. It was the byproduct of some various things. The Wildcats solely gained 14 video games final season and had been below the path of a first-time head coach. Additionally, nobody fairly knew what to anticipate from Florida switch Keyontae Johnson, who hadn’t performed since December 2020 after collapsing throughout a recreation in opposition to Florida State.
However now right here we’re, greater than two months into this season, and it is develop into abundantly clear that even when it was wise in October to undertaking KSU to complete final within the Huge 12, the Wildcats truly touchdown that deep within the standings is not a probable situation.
This crew is legit good.
That is the principle takeaway following Saturday’s 97-95 extra time win at Baylor that pushed Kansas State to 14-1 total and 3-0 within the Huge 12. And the explanation this feels for actual versus fluky is as a result of if you check out the roster with contemporary eyes, these Wildcats are undeniably extra proficient than most acknowledged within the preseason.
All of it begins with Johnson. The truth that he entered this season having not performed in practically two years following his collapse made it cheap to surprise what sort of participant he’d be. Fifteen video games into this season, nonetheless, we now know he is kind of the identical participant — and arguably a higher participant — than he was when he was voted the SEC Participant of the Yr prematurely of the 2020-21 season. That explains a variety of this. Kansas State’s main scorer is a former preseason SEC Participant of the Yr who has emerged as a candidate for Huge 12 Participant of the Yr.
Past that, Markquis Nowell has developed into one of many nation’s finest level guards. In Saturday’s win at Baylor, he completed with 32 factors and 14 assists after getting 36 factors and 9 assists in Tuesday’s win at Texas, making him simply the third Division I participant up to now 10 seasons to get 65-plus factors and 20-plus assists in any two-game span. The one others who’ve finished it are NBA All-Stars Ja Morant (Grizzlies) and Trae Younger (Hawks), in line with analysis carried out by Jared Berson.
Past that, Kansas State’s third-leading scorer (Nae’Qwan Tomlin) is a JUCO All-American, and the Wildcats’ fourth-leading scorer (Desi Sills) began for an Arkansas crew that made the Elite Eight two years in the past. In different phrases, the highest of this roster is skilled and proficient — and the first-year coach who put this all collectively, Jerome Tang, has proven himself to be so efficient on this function after spending 19 seasons as an assistant at Baylor that he is been listed in a number of locations as a possible candidate for the Texas job.
It is a terrific story. It has been enjoyable to observe.
It has compelled me to maneuver Kansas State to No. 7 in Sunday morning’s up to date CBS Sports activities Prime 25 And 1 every day school basketball rankings based mostly on a résumé that includes a 4-1 document in Quadrant 1 with zero further losses. The highway wins at Texas and at Baylor which have prolonged Kansas State’s successful streak to eight video games are large. No program within the nation has two highway victories nearly as good as these. And Kansas State’s 3-0 begin within the Huge 12 has the Wildcats tied atop the league standings with Kansas and Iowa State heading into per week during which they will play Oklahoma State (Tuesday) and at TCU (Saturday).
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Prime 25 And 1 rankings