Busting Brackets

Kansas State Basketball: Wildcats will be Big 12 title contenders next season

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 18: Mike McGuirl
CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 18: Mike McGuirl /

Kansas State was just one win short of making the Final Four this season. But with everyone coming back, the Wildcats will be a problem for everyone in the Big 12 next season, including the Kansas Jayhawks.

The season for Kansas State (25-12) is now over after a 78-62 loss to Cinderella Loyola-Chicago in the Elite Eight game. The Wildcats’ defense couldn’t contain the ultra-efficient Ramblers throughout the night, allowing them to shoot 57% from the field.

Bruce Weber’s team was fighting an uphill battle from the start of the NCAA Tournament, with First-Team All-Big 12 forward Dean Wade unable to play because of a foot injury. Without him, Kansas State was forced to try and grind out wins with great defense. They were able to that, with wins over Creighton, UMBC, and Kentucky in the Big Dance.

This was overall a great year for Kansas State. Despite going through some injuries, the Wildcats were able to win 10 games in arguably the toughest conference of the season in the Big 12. And players like Wade and guard Barry Brown have elevated themselves from role players to All-Conference stars.

Now the attention for the basketball program turns to the 2018-19 season, and the future looks very bright. Assuming everything goes accordingly, the Wildcats will return almost 100% of their scoring and is the only team in the Big 12 conference to not lose an impact player for next season. Also coming back is their team defense, which statistically came second to Texas Tech in the league.

The team from Manhattan finished in fourth place in the conference standings and has a great chance to finish even higher next season. Kansas, of course, will come in as the heavy favorite, with a couple of five-star recruits coming in along with a few high-level transfers eligible to play.

Next: Loyola-Chicago continues their Cinderella story into the Final Four

Jayhawks fans always look to see who is the biggest contender for their consecutive regular-season championship streak. And while things are going to change in the off-season, Kansas State looks to be that team, making the games between them next season all the more must-watch.