Hoop action for Shocks, Cats, Hawks

I’m plopping down in front of my 60-inch television (status symbol) tonight and again Tuesday night to watch a lot of college hoops.

It’ll be the first time I’ve really zoned in, what with Kansas State football taking up most of my zoning. And I’m looking forward to seeing what Wichita State, Kansas and Kansas State show me. K-State gets things going tonight against Lamar in the NIT Tip-off at Bramlage Coliseum.

Wichita State has a tough one tonight against VCU on the Rams’ home floor in Richmond, Va.

The Shockers, who beat North Carolina-Central in their opener, play at VCU, a team most of the experts believe will be back in the NCAA Tournament in March. The Rams are debuting in the Atlantic 10 this season and most think they’re good enough to win a conference title in their first season. Who am I to disagree?

VCU and Wichita State have had some dandy games in the past several seasons and the Shockers would love to avenge their loss to the Rams in the second round (but first game) of the NCAA Tournament last season in Portland.

When I even think of Portland, I become agitated. My experience there last March wasn’t a good one. Expecting one of the most beautiful cities in the country, I instead got a rainy, wet mess. I couldn’t go see the sites because of all the moisture. Moss was growing on trees and roofs of houses and pretty much everywhere.

And we also had a terrible time trying to get back to Wichita after the Shockers loss to VCU on a Friday night. Eventually, we were able to get home Tuesday. It was a traveling nightmare.

Anyway, I like this new-look WSU team and am especially intrigued by red-shirt freshman Ron Baker and junior college transfer Cleanthony Early. Of course, senior center Carl Hall is the backbone of the team.

Kansas brushed off Southeast Missouri State in its opener and gets a much tougher test tonight in Atlanta against Michigan State, which dropped its opener to a Connecticut team that was supposed to be rebuilding, although the Huskies are ranked in the Top 25.

KU has its own intriguing newcomers in guard Ben McLemore and forward Perry Ellis, who combined for 24 points and 20 rebounds in the opener. Also, sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe seems to have taken his game to a higher level while experienced senior Elijah Johnson is off to a spotty start.

I expect a Kansas team with much more depth than the one that lost to Kentucky in the national championship game last season. However, that depth wasn’t much on display against Southeast Missouri State when six players were on the floor for at least 22 minutes each.

Michigan State looks to be a perimeter-oriented team and three of those perimeter players took 47 of the Spartans’ 64 shots against UConn. It’s always difficult to assess teams early in a college basketball season, but Michigan State looks to have offensive issues in its front-court.

Kansas State was the most impressive of the three in-state schools in opening games. The Wildcats swamped North Dakota, 85-52, and held the visitors to 30 percent shooting. This looks like a deep K-State team that new coach Bruce Weber is going to experiment with. It could be interesting tonight since Lamar, coached by Pat Knight, is coming off a 23-win season.

Some good college basketball on a Monday, and then a Tuesday night, sounds enticing. I can’t wait to fire up the 60-incher. Yes, I have one.