When/where: 3 p.m. Saturday, Block Pavilion, Oxford, Mississippi
TV/radio: ESPNU; KKGQ (92.3 FM) in Wichita, KCSP (610 AM) in Kansas City.
About Mississippi (10-10, 2-6 SEC): The Rebels are a hard team to judge. The have lost seven of their past nine games, including ugly scores against Missouri (78-53) and Samford (75-73). But their two victories during that span were both impressive. Ole Miss beat rival Mississippi State 82-72 at home earlier this month and also defeated Florida 70-54 at home earlier this week. Will the good Ole Miss or the bad Ole Miss show up against K-State?
About Kansas State (10-9, 2-6 Big 12): The Wildcats are coming off their most lopsided loss of the season, a 74-49 defeat on the road against No. 4 Baylor. They will try to bounce back in the Big 12/SEC Challenge against Mississippi. They will have to play without sophomore guard Selton Miguel, who injured his left ankle against the Bears and was unable to finish the game. Bruce Weber will rely on Mike McGuirl and Luke Kasubke to take his place on the wing. K-State is 2-0 in road games against nonconference opponents this season. Its previous two wins came at Nebraska and Wichita State.
Bruce Weber isn’t the biggest fan of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
The K-State men’s basketball coach has never won a road game in the history of the challenge and he only has a 3-5 record in it overall. It seems like every year at about this time he lobbies for these games to be moved to December, before the start of Big 12 play.
But he should welcome a SEC opponent showing up in the middle of K-State’s conference schedule this season. After playing four straight games against ranked Big 12 opponents, a trip to Mississippi might feel like a vacation.
The Rebels have some solid victories on their resume, but they are not on the same level as any team in the Big 12. They are ranked 121st in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings system. By comparison, every Big 12 team is inside the top 65.
This feels like a good matchup for the Wildcats. Ole Miss uses a big lineup that features two forwards and a center. K-State should be able to create some mismatches with its small-ball rotation. The Rebels also often struggle on offense, shooting 32.3% from three-point range and 49% from two-point range.
If Ole Miss is able to dominate on the boards the same way KU and Baylor did against K-State, then the Wildcats will be in trouble. But smothering other teams with rebounds hasn’t been its thing this season.
Playing without Selton Miguel could make things more challenging than usual for K-State. Mike McGuirl will need to play a good game.
K-State hasn’t lost to a team outside the KenPom top 65 all season. It won in its other challenging nonconference games against Nebraska and Wichita State on the road. Here’s betting the Wildcats take care of business again.
K-State 67, Ole Miss 58.