2018 Kansas State Wildcats Basketball Predictions with Odds and Expert Picks
The Wildcats are proof that peaking at the right time is what college basketball is all about. The team won 21 regular-season games and just barely snuck into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 9 seed. It wasn't much of a season up to that point - Kansas, Texas Tech and West Virginia were the best teams in the conference, and the Wildcats went a combined 0-7 against them. But they got hot at the right time, the draw worked out for them, and they went on a run in March when it all matters. They beat Creighton in their opener, benefitted from UMBC's stunning upset of Virginia to advance to the second weekend, and then impressively beat Kentucky before falling to tournament darlings Loyola in the Elite Eight. The experience of that run, plus a roster that is largely intact and a conference that isn't likely as strong as last year, has expectations high in Manhattan.
Kansas State Wildcats Additions/Losses
The Wildcats have dealt with some attrition this offseason. Mawdo Sallah, Amaad Wainwright and Brian Patrick transferred, and Mason Schoen graduated. All played, but Wainwright led the way with 13.1 minutes and 2.8 points per game, so the impact of the departures is hardly crippling.
The biggest addition was Juco transfer Austin Trice, an athletic forward who is a much-needed rebounding force on a team that was lousy on the boards last year. The only recruit is point guard Shaun Williams, who topped out as a three-star at two of four recruiting services and is a candidate for a redshirt.
Kansas State Wildcats Outlook
The team returns three seniors and two juniors to the starting lineup, so experience isn't a concern. Dean Wade is the best player as a forward who can shoot very well while also defending very well. He was hurt in the Big 12 Tournament last year and missed the NCAA Tournament, so he is a bonus for this team starting the year. The three guards are all strong. Barry Brown runs the point and is a very strong defender. Kamau Stokes is a streaky scorer who is really dangerous when he is on, and he will hopefully be healthier his year after dealing with a foot injury much of last year. And Xavier Sneed is a competent scorer who is an excellent defender that can guard anyone on most opposing rosters. The fifth starter is junior Makol Mawien. He started every game at center last year and could be ready to take a step forward this year. It's a competent lineup, and they have the luxury of having Cartier Diarra off the bench. The guard started 22 games last year and is very effective when the team wants to play four guards - something that makes them very tough to play. Add in Trice, and sophomores Mike McGuirl and Levi Stockard, who are both poised for leaps forward, and you have a team that doesn't run particularly deep, but which has a rotation that should work.
To justify this ranking, though, the team is going to have to build on how they finished the season. During the regular season they just weren't that impressive. This is much the same roster, so we are taking a leap of faith that they will be better than they were. That means we are looking for a step forward. But with three seniors and two juniors in the top five, big improvement isn't necessarily likely.
Kansas State Wildcats Schedule
The nonconference schedule is, frankly, pathetic. Their preseason tournament is the Paradise Jam, which doesn't feature a significant opponent in the bracket. If they don't win it, it will be a concern. The only really interesting game they play is at Marquette. If they don't get at least 10 wins out of the first 12 games, it will be a real problem.
The Big 12 schedule is manageable, with the games against the best teams spread out enough that they aren't going to face insurmountable stretches of games. There is also a game against Texas A&M for the Big 12/SEC Challenge thrown in, which isn't as challenging as it could be.
Kansas State Wildcats Futures Odds
Despite going into the season ranked 12th in the AP poll, Kansas State is tied at 28th to win the national title at Bovada at a huge price of +10000. I'm clearly not the only one that is skeptical of this team.
Kansas State Wildcats Predictions
I think this team is going to be solid. They are experienced, and three guys on the roster - Wade, Sneed and Brown - have NBA upside. But the Big 12 is reasonably tough up top - behind Kansas, which is on a whole different level - and I am not entirely sure how this team is supposed to improve as much from last season as this ranking suggests they should. They could finish as high as second in the conference, but they are in no way relevant nationally, and there is a decent chance for disappointment.
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