The Kansas State Wildcats and Texas Tech Red Raiders are both underwhelming fans with losing records in Big 12 play so far.
TV Schedule: Tuesday, January 14, 2020, at 8:00 PM ET, ESPN+
Location: Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan, Kansas
At first glance, Tuesday’s game between the Kansas State Wildcats and Texas Tech Red Raiders looks like a contest between the worst the Big 12 has to offer. The Wildcats are languishing in the basement alongside the Oklahoma State Cowboys at 0-3, while the Red Raiders are only slightly better at 1-2.
There’s more than meets the eye here, though.
Well, that might not be entirely true for Kansas State, as this is one of Bruce Weber’s most disappointing squads. In his first seven seasons at the helm, only one of Weber’s teams have failed to finish .500 or better, but this might very well be the second if they don’t turn things around quickly.
The Wildcats are 7-8 overall, with non-conference losses to mid-major schools Bradley and Saint Louis, as well as losses to a handful of major programs. They’ve lost their first three Big 12 games, although only the loss at Texas was a blowout.
There’s still plenty of talent in Manhattan. Senior forward Xavier Sneed is having his best season, averaging 14.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Junior guard Cartier Diarra is right by his side at 12.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. But Kansas State is struggling to score, averaging just 64.6 points per game; the only major school scoring less are the defending champions, Virginia, which is somewhat by design.
Texas Tech’s two Big 12 losses are easier to excuse. After crushing Oklahoma State, the Red Raiders have lost to Baylor (arguably the No. 1 team in the country) and on the road against West Virginia. Chris Beard’s team will almost definitely lose their AP ranking this week, but they won’t surrender the inside track for an NCAA Tournament bid.
One of the big things to look out for on Tuesday night is the battle of the boards. In Texas Tech’s two recent losses, they were outrebounded by a combined 32 boards. They’ll need to be more aggressive against Kansas State; Texas Tech’s rebound leader is Chris Clarke, averaging 8.5 per game.
The Red Raiders will also need a bounce back from freshman Jahmi’us Ramsey. West Virginia held the guard to eight points, only the second time in his college career he failed to eclipse the double-digit scoring mark. At 16.8 points per game, he’s the best scorer among the two teams playing on Tuesday.
Ultimately, this game should come down to whether or not Kansas State can fix some of their offensive woes. They scored just 50 points in their loss to Texas, their lowest point total of the season (although they deserve some benefit of the doubt after the travel headaches they endured to get to Austin). The Wildcats actually allow fewer points per game than the Red Raiders, but Beard’s team still has a reputation as one that gets it done on the defensive end. If that’s the case here, Kansas State has little chance.
Prediction: Texas Tech 66, Kansas State 55