Kansas State won a thriller of a Sweet Sixteen game in Madison Square Garden, topping the Michigan State Spartans in overtime 98-93. Markquis Nowell showed why he is a Cousy Award Finalist, putting up a double-double of 20 points and an tournament record 19 assists in front of his hometown crowd. His teammates certainly benefitted from Nowell's terrific team play, Ismael Massoud scored 15, Cam Carter scored 12, Nae'Qwan Tomlin and David N'Guessan scored 11, and the second biggest star on this team Keyontae Johnson, racked up 22. That left 2 out of the 8-man roster scoring in single figures or less. The Wildcats made 55.9% of their field goals and were 45.8% from 3, just eking out a tenacious... Spartan-like effort from Michigan State, who made 49.2% of their field goals and were 52.0% from 3-point land. Not to mention fantastic scoring performances from AJ Hoggard (25), Joey Hauser (18), Tyson Walker (16), and Jaden Akins (14).
The Wildcats will move onto the Elite Eight to face the winner of Florida Atlantic and Tennessee, currently at a 5-point game at half as I am typing this article. It has been an absolute barroom brawl of a game so far, so the Cats should prepare for a team that will either A) Come out with momentum and physicality that will challenge this high-scoring K-State offense, or B) Come out completely flat after playing their toughest game of the tournament. If it's Tennessee, I'd expect A, and if it's FAU, I'd expect B, though I could be wrong. FAU could certainly be a team to be reckoned with, they've gone 33-3 so far this season, were ranked at a few points during the season, and could end up scot-free at the end of this game. It will be extremely tough though against the #1 ranked KenPom defense, that being said whoever Kansas State faces they will certainly not underestimate.
I'll say it right now, as a Jayhawk alum, I am officially a (reluctant and limited time only) fan of this Kansas State team. I know that burns some of your ears, I got family and friends that are K-State alumni and fans so maybe it's that bias talking, but this team is likeable. Not as much as the Jayhawks, but UNFORTUNATELY certain things happen you just can't control. Ugh. Anyway, Jerome Tang, Markquis Nowell, and Keyontae Johnson are all for real and are all here to potentially bring home K-State's first ever *audible gasp* national title. Like, in any sport (that's NCAA sanctioned), at some point you just gotta give Little Brother one, I GUESS. All kidding aside, I don't think anyone could have predicted this for the Wildcats back in November. They have shown that they have a ton of talent as well as improvement, mesh well even as a group chalked full of transfers and have shown why Jerome Tang deserves Coach of the Year. It has truly been impressive to watch this team come back from the Weber years under a much more impressive, mature, and well put-together coach. I commend the Wildcats for this one, go win it for the Big 12 (Let's be honest, if you're a KU fan and want TEXAS to win, get real. No one wants Texas to win.) and go win your first national title. You'll finally have some hardware to brag about and will make this rivalry just a tinge more interesting. I for one, would love to see it. E-*retch*-M-A-W.
Burn Notice: 10/10 I'm gonna wash my hands...and my keyboard.