As of Friday, March 22, 2013
© Copyright 2013
Gwinnett Daily Post
Preview: La Salle vs. Kansas State
Despite a loss in the finals of the Big 12 tournament championship game at the Sprint Center, Kansas State's top hope was to return to the nearby venue for the NCAA Tournament. The selection committee granted the Wildcats their wish and they'll try to take advantage of it starting Friday when they meet La Salle. While Kansas State suffered its first loss in four games in Kansas City after its conference title-game setback against Kansas, the Wildcats managed to beat Florida there Dec. 22, 2012.
Kansas State, which shared the regular-season conference title with the Jayhawks, reached the regional final round in its only previous appearance as a fourth seed in the NCAA Tournament and will try to make another deep run against the explosive Explorers. La Salle notched its first NCAA Tournament win since 1990 in Wednesday's 80-71 first-round victory over Boise State - the 59th anniversary of their national championship win.
TV: 3:10 p.m. ET, truTV
ABOUT LA SALLE (22-9): The Explorers ended their 21-year postseason drought in style Wednesday, shooting 63.3 percent - the best performance by a NCAA Tournament team since 2009. In addition to hitting 11 of its 21 3-point attempts against the Broncos, La Salle scored 36 points inside the paint. Sam Mills hit five of the team's 3-pointers and is 22-for-39 beyond the arc over his last 10 games. The Explorers figure to be without 6-11 sophomore center Steve Zack (sprained foot) again Friday. The only La Salle regular taller than 6-8, Zack was still on crutches Wednesday. His size will be missed against the Wildcats, who led the Big 12 in offensive rebounds.
ABOUT KANSAS STATE (27-7): The Wildcats received their fourth-straight NCAA Tournament bid and 27th overall. The main cog in first-year coach Bruce Weber's motion offense is leading scorer Rodney McGruder (15.7 points), who has scored in double figures in 13 straight games and coming off a conference tournament run in which he averaged 22.3 points. However, Kansas State does most of its damage on the defensive end, leading the Big 12 in scoring defense (60.4). Center Jordan Henriquez (back) saw his most significant action in nearly a month over the last two games of the conference tournament, averaging eight rebounds and two blocks over that span.
Kansas State will play a NCAA Tournament game in Kansas City for the ninth time in school history, but the first time since 1964.
La Salle won its only national championship over Bradley in Kansas City in 1954.
The winner will meet fifth-seed Wisconsin or No. 12 seed Mississippi in the round of 32.
PREDICTION: Kansas State 66, La Salle 58