Both Kansas State and Long Beach State will leave San Juan, Puerto Rico disappointed with tournament results but confident that the failures of tournament results will make them a better ball club at the end of the season. The 49ers and Wildcats get together for an early afternoon tip in a consolation match that may loom large in March. The ‘Cats sit as solid seven point favorites in Vegas.
These teams actually got together exactly a week ago when The Beach traveled to Kansas to play the Wildcats in a road game – a game that Kansas State came out on top of by a margin of 13. The 49ers managed just 58 points and struggled to find any sort of efficiency from the floor or any player outside of Dan Jennings, who scored 14 points on just nine shots. Given Long Beach State’s track record playing in true road games in recent memory and the general idea that the losing team benefits from adjustments more in rematch spots, a much closer game the second time around seems like a likely possibility.
After an encouraging loss to VCU on Friday, Long Beach State will settle in for a much slower game on Sunday. Of course, any opponent plays slower than VCU but Kansas State’s methodical half-court, motion offense approach under Bruce Weber will be a stark contrast. This can give The Beach trouble but also plays into the hands of a an underdog team trying to stay within a medium-sized number. Kansas State throws a decent amount of talent at Long Beach State but it’s all talent that hasn’t quite come together to pose as a legitimate finished product. It isn’t likely that this will matriculate before a 12:30 tip-off in San Juan in a consolation matchup.
The big returning players from Kansas State were supposed to be Spradling, Southwell and Gipson. All three have began 2013/2014 with very cooling performances. Luckily, Marcus Foster has stepped up as a dynamic scorer for the ‘Cats. That said, there is still something missing from Kansas State right now – void that likely came to fruition with the departure of Angel Rodriguez to Miami. The San Juan native broke out last year for KSU and isn’t currently playing as he sits out during his eligibility transfer to the ‘Canes. The lack of an experienced point guard is showing early in Bruce Weber’s offense for the 2-3 Wildcats. It just doesn’t seem fair to think Kansas State should be such a definitive favorite over a team that still has the quality of talent that Long Beach does on a neutral floor.
Look for a slightly sloppy but pretty tightly-contested ball game Sunday afternoon in San Juan. It won’t be pretty but Long Beach State should stick within this number if not win the game outright.
Free Pick: Long Beach State +7