A few conference realignment thoughts

Made a few calls Friday about the topic of conference realignment, and wanted to pass along two tidbits.

1. A Kansas State source told me he was in favor of BYU joining the Big 12. The source’s reasoning was that the Cougars, currently a football independent and member of the West Coast Conference in all other sports, would be a solid addition for a conference in need of a new member with a strong football tradition. Beyond that, the source said BYU joining the Big 12 would bring the conference some much needed positive publicity at the national level. That would increase the Big 12′s chances of attracting two more new members and returning to a 12-team league.

There are other obvious reasons for the Big 12 to covet BYU, which the Salt Lake Tribune reports is in talks with the Big 12. The Cougars have a strong national following, and could enhance the league’s TV appeal.

Other possible Big 12 expansion candidates are Air Force, Louisville, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Arkansas, Houston and SMU.

2. The possibility of Kansas and K-State splitting up and joining different conferences in the event that the Big 12 crumbles is a very complicated matter. Though KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little told the University Daily Kansan the two could separate, the Kansas Board of Regents would need to approve such a move for it to actually happen.

Though Topeka regent Dan Lykins told me yesterday he’s not sure how the board would vote in such a situation, it’s hard to imagine the regents supporting a move that isn’t beneficial for both schools.

Wednesday K-State links

We have linked to numerous stories about Brandon Banks’ hot start with the Washington Redskins lately. So today we look at some other former Kansas State football players in the pros.

– For starters, here’s a look at how Jordy Nelson is fitting in with the Green Bay Packers.

– Darren Sproles missed the Chargers’ preseason opener with a bum shoulder, but the injury is not believed to be serious. When he returns, San Diego coaches expect Sproles to help make up for the backfield loss of LaDainian Tomlinson.

– Jeffrey Fitzgerald, who led the Wildcats in sacks last season, was cut from the Chiefs yesterday. Too bad. The Chiefs’ next preseason game is against Tampa Bay. He could have been reunited with former K-State tight end Jeron Mastrud and former quarterback Josh Freeman.
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Florida added to K-State basketball schedule

For anyone that wanted Florida to take down BYU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season, you’re about to see what could have been.

Well, kind of, anyway.

Had the Gators defeated BYU in overtime at the Ford Center, they would have been the ones playing Kansas State in an entertaining second-round matchup instead of the Cougars. While nothing can be done to recreate that game, we will soon see the next best thing. The Wildcats have added Florida to two of its future nonconference schedules.
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Postgame: K-State 84, BYU 72

Pullen

Jacob Pullen. Jacob Pullen. Jacob Pullen.

The name is worth repeating.

On Saturday at the Ford Center, he delivered THE performance of the NCAA Tournament. On offense, he drained seven three-pointers on his way to a career high 34 points. On defense, he locked down on BYU star Jimmer Fredette and held him to a below-average night.

And with Kansas State’s leading scorer playing so well in an 84-72 victory over BYU in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, basketball fans across the country are sure to be hearing more about him as the Wildcats head to Salt Lake City for the Sweet 16.
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Clemente can relate to Fredette

Denis Clemente knows what it’s like to be the center of attention.

A year ago, when the Kansas State senior guard went to Texas and scored a whopping 44 points against the Longhorns, he became a marked man.

Every defense he faced for the rest of the season drew up double teams against him, and tried to make the Wildcats find offense in other places. If they were to lose to K-State, so be it. But under no circumstances did they want to be shot down by Clemente.

So he of all people can relate to BYU’s Jimmer Fredette today. After scoring 37 against Florida, K-State will try to gang up on him today the same way teams around the Big 12 ganged up on Clemente a year ago.

“It can be tough,” Clemente said. “But you’ve just got to go out there and challenge yourself.”
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A few minutes with … a guy who knows something about BYU basketball

Nobody covers the BYU basketball team better than Jason Franchuk of the Provo Daily Herald.

He has seen Jimmer Fredette score 49 points at Arizona and 37 points against Florida in Oklahoma City. He also knows a thing or two about how Jacob Pullen’s beard would be treated in Mormon country.

To help us take a look at Saturday’s big NCAA Tournament game between BYU and Kansas State, he was nice enough to stop by K-Stated and share some insight.

Just how good is Jimmer Fredette?

Good enough to really make a name for himself in the tournament, even if his name was simply ol’ Jim. Fredette has a fantastic ability to find ways to score points. He can shoot outside over a 6-9 defender, and he can pound the ball inside and score through one. He did both against Florida. His broad shoulders and fearless nature make him fun to watch when he gets into the paint. Mind you, this kid had a record 49 points at the McKale Center at Arizona in late December. Think about how many great players have been on the UA court, and this guy owns the record (which is now also the school mark).
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Postgame: K-State 82, North Texas 62

The first step has been taken.

Normally, against a 15 seed like North Texas that’s not saying a whole lot. That’s a game the favorite should just about always win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. But on this Thursday, a win in that scenario was worth bragging about.

Especially when you consider the way Kansas State beat North Texas.

While other high seeds across the country saw their seasons end abruptly at the hands of double-digit seeds, the Wildcats blew out the Mean Green. Everyone played, and the last few minutes at the Ford Center were a party.
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Breaking down the West Region

Kansas State will play a maximum of four teams from the West Region in this year’s NCAA Tournament, but there’s no way of predicting (accurately, at least) who three of those four opponents could be.

We already went over North Texas here and here, so that leaves 14 other potential match ups.

Let’s start at the top of the bracket.

No. 1 Syracuse (28-4) First Big East
Much like Kansas State, Syracuse started the season outside of the rankings, and quickly rose up the polls. After winning the regular-season Big East title, the Orange likely would have ended up as the top seed in the East region, but those games are being played on their home court.

Syracuse is led by forward Wes Johnson, who averages more than 16 points and eight rebounds per game. But four of his teammates also average 10 or more points a game. The Orange are one of the most balanced teams in the nation, and they’re strong on defense, too. Jim Boeheim, who has won a national title at Syracuse, runs a legendary zone defense that regularly causes its opponents fits.

The Orange are thinking Final Four or bust.
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