What is an anteater? K-State guard Cartier Diarra has no idea
Here are projected starters with TV and radio information for the Kansas State Wildcats vs. the UC Irvine Anteaters first-round NCAA Tournament game:
When/where: 1 p.m., Friday, SAP Center, San Jose, Calif.
TV/radio: TBS, KQAM (1480 AM) in Wichita, KCSP (610 AM) in Kansas City
About No. 13 seed UC Irvine (30-5): The Anteaters enter the NCAA Tournament on a 16-game winning streak. Their last loss happened so long ago players have a hard time recalling details. UC Irvine is not your average No. 13 seed. It features a big front court led by Jonathan Galloway and Tommy Rutherford. The Anteaters lead the nation in two-point percentage defense and are one of best rebounding teams in college basketball. They have more size than K-State and will try to exploit that advantage in this game.
About No. 4 seed Kansas State (25-8): The Wildcats are coming off a loss in the semifinal round of the Big 12 Tournament, but that result might have been a blessing in disguise. It gave K-State players an opportunity to get some much-needed rest and recharge. K-State will be without star forward Dean Wade, but that’s nothing new for Bruce Weber’s team. The Wildcats made it to the Elite Eight last season while only getting eight minutes from Wade. K-State will rely on Xavier Sneed to play important minutes as a stretch four in his absence. Weber likes to go small when Wade isn’t available, but he may choose to big at times in this game by playing Austin Trice or Levi Stockard against UC Irvine’s front court.
Prediction: The Anteaters are certainly capable of winning this game, but they won’t sneak up on the Wildcats here. After watching experts predict UC Irvine to upset K-State for a week straight, K-State players enter this game with a bit of an underdog mentality. Senior leadership will be the difference maker here. Expect Barry Brown and Kamau Stokes to have big games, and for K-State to win.
K-State 66, UC Irvine 60.