Late To The UMBC Bandwagon? Here's What You Need To Know About The Retrievers

Dean Wade's status will be something to monitor throughout the week. He wants to play and is confident. If he's less than 100-percent, how does that change K-State?

It certainly is worth monitoring, no doubt about that. I do expect Wade to play, but I find it hard to believe he’ll suddenly be 100% after sitting out crucial games against Kansas, Creighton and UMBC with this injury. Time will help, sure, but I think he’ll still be limited. Wade is K-State’s best player and a first-team All-Big 12 selection. He’s got good size at a legit 6-foot-10, shoots the three around 45 percent and is comfortable in the mid range and putting the ball on the floor and attacking the basket. He’s also a plus-defender. Not having him, or having a limited version of him, changes K-State a great deal and forces them to play small.

Who are some of K-State's other top performers and what do they bring to the mix?

Barry Brown is a 6-foot-3 shooting guard who will actually probably handle the ball more than K-State’s point guards. It’s probably not an exaggeration to call him one of the five best defenders in college basketball, especially after he just locked down a pair of 20-plus point per game scorers in Jairus Lyles and Marcus Foster in the first two rounds of the tournament. Offensively he is very good at attacking the basket. He’s not a great three-point shooter; he oddly becomes a much better shooter at what are thought to be very inefficient 17-to-19 foot jumpers.

Small forward Xavier Sneed is K-State’s best athlete and second best defender. He was around a 40 percent three-point shooter early in the year but has struggled with his shot as of late. He made four huge plays late in the UMBC game to put the Retrievers away.

The point guard duties will be split by Kam Stokes, Cartier Diarra and Mike McGuirl. Stokes was in his third year as the starting point before suffering an injury early in Big 12 play, and he was replaced by Diarra – a much bigger point with a 40-plus inch vertical – who was a revelation before hitting a bit of a freshman wall as of late. McGuirl had his redshirt pulled and only played sparingly, but then he went off for 17 points in just 22 minutes in the first round against Creighton. Diarra and McGuirl are both very athletic, but each are also just freshman. Stokes is a junior and a very streaky shooter.

The wildcard might be Makol Mawien. A 6-foot-9 sophomore, Mawien struggled this year before putting it together the final month of the season. He had his best effort in Kansas City at the Big 12 Tournament, scoring 18 against TCU before putting up 29 in the semifinal against Kansas. He can finish around the hoop, has a good shooting touch from the mid-range and will even step out and hit the occasional three. He’s not a great rebounder for his position, but he’s a good shot blocker and help defender.

If you were attacking this K-State team offensively and defensively how would you do it?

This might be a weird answer, but I’d do it by attacking the offensive glass.

K-State has taken to calling itself, “The best defensive team in the NCAA Tournament,” right before the tournament began, and so far they’ve been right. Creighton was arguably the most efficient offense in the country coming in to the tournament, and the Wildcats held them to 59 points. UMBC had just put up 74 against Virginia’s elite defense (including 53 in the second half alone) and K-State held them to 43 for the game.

Trying to score against K-State by simply running offense in the half court is going to be a challenge for anybody right about now.

Where you can hurt them, however, is on second chance opportunities. K-State has been an average to poor rebounding team all year long. And with Wade – their leading rebounder – either out or hobbled it’s been even worse. Kentucky’s size and athleticism could be a huge factor in this one by dominating the glass and getting second chances to score.

What are some keys to the game for K-State in the Sweet 16 against Kentucky?

An obvious one will be hopefully having Wade healthy. If that happens and he’s good to go like normal, this matchup suddenly becomes much more even.

Second would be competing on the glass. K-State isn’t going to win the rebounding battle in this one, but they can’t get beat so badly on the boards that it costs them the game.

Third would be creating turnovers and protecting the ball. These are two things K-State has been pretty good at this year and will need to do to create transition opportunities against Kentucky.

Finally, they’ll need to make shots. K-State is an extremely streaky three-point shooting team. They shot 50 percent from deep against Creighton before going ice cold against UMBC. Bruce Weber’s team has capable shooters; they just can’t afford to all go ice cold at once.

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