It’s only Monday, but time is already ticking on the Kansas State coaching staff as it prepares to open the NCAA Championship on Friday in Kansas City.
The fourth-seeded Wildcats won’t even know what team they’re playing until late Wednesday night, as Boise State and La Salle will meet in a play-in game in Dayton, Ohio, to decide K-State’s second-round opponent.
K-State coach Bruce Weber is thrilled to be playing in Kansas City again this week, but says there are clearly challenges having to wait until midweek to know his team’s opponent for Friday’s 2:10 p.m. game at the Sprint Center.
“The negative part is you don’t know how to prepare and for which team,” Weber said Sunday. “That’ll have to be quick Wednesday and Thursday, getting ready for them. But they’re not going to be able to focus on us either because they’re trying to win a game before anything happens.”
K-State senior guard Martavious Irving said the Wildcats just have to be prepared for anyone.
“It’s difficult because you want to have an idea,” he said. “A lot teams have an idea of who they’re playing and have the time to prepare. I think right now, we just need to worry about our team, get our bodies right, and prepare for whoever.”
Weber said he would like to send two coaches to Dayton to scout Boise State and La Salle, which play on truTV Wednesday night at 8:10.
“I don’t know the rules, if we can go scout them, but we’ll find out,” he said. “I know we can at our site, but no matter what, we’ll be watching that game on TV.
“If we can, though, we’d have two guys go. And I’d even like to go, to be honest.”
Boise State is 21-10 and tied for fourth in the Mountain West with a 9-7 record this season. The Broncos are led by third-year head coach Leon Rice, who was a longtime assistant at Gonzaga. Rice is the first coach in school history to win at least 20 games in two of his first three seasons, as Boise State is playing in its first NCAA tournament since 2008.
On the court, the Broncos are led by the sophomore duo of Anthony Drmic and Derrick Marks, who average 17.3 and 16.3 points per game, respectively. Both were named second-team All-Mountain West.
La Salle is 21-9 overall and finished in a three-way tie for third in the Atlantic 10 with an 11-5 record. This will be the 12th NCAA tournament appearance and the first since 1992 for the Explorers. La Salle has four players averaging double figures, led by first-team All-A10 senior Ramon Galloway at 17 points per game. Junior Tyreek Duren, who a second-team All-A10 selection, is averaging 15 points a game.
The Wildcats (27-7) have never faced Boise State, while they’ve played La Salle three times, including a matchup in the 1988 Midwest Regional in South Bend, Ind., when K-State won 66-53 en route to the Elite Eight.
K-State — playing in its fifth NCAA tournament in six seasons — will scout both teams in the play-in game, as well as Sunday’s potential third-round matchup with No. 5-seed Wisconsin or 12-seed Ole Miss.
“We have tapes on everybody,” Weber said. “The only difference now is that we normally have three guys who scout and now we’ll have to have a fourth guy. And Drew (Speraw) has a little more work as our video guy because he has to stuff ready for all those games.”
One team Weber knows very well is Wisconsin, having coached against the Badgers annually during his nine seasons in the Big Ten at Illinois. Weber is 9-12 against the Badgers.
“If we get to play Wisconsin… I know them,” Weber said. “We’ve played Bo (Ryan) a lot, so at least it’s not somebody that you don’t know anything about. You saw it today, they play very disciplined basketball and you have to be able to guard them and deal with their style of play. You can’t compare scores or leagues now, though — it’s who is playing well at the right time and who is doing things well at the end of the league.”