NCAA BK

K-State among most dangerous teams

Kansas State
Kansas State's Jacob Pullen and Coach Frank Martin have made their anger work for them.
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Kalani Simpson

Kalani Simpson is an award-winning journalist who has earned national recognition as a sports columnist at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and editor at Nebraska Sports America magazine.MORE>>
 
   
 

I always root for crazy.

I do it because crazy can be entertaining in sports. And also, so that when someone throws a chair, I want it clear that I’ve always been on his side.

But mostly I do it because I’d like to think it’s crazy for some higher purpose, rather than just crazy for crazy’s sake. For example, I always rooted for Bob Knight to do well in his later years. I’d prefer to imagine him a misunderstood genius rather than just some anti-social psycho. It just makes me feel better.

Crazy plus winning usually equals some of the best stories in sports. Crazy plus losing? That just gets ugly really fast.

Which brings us to Kansas State.

Crazy coach. (In real life Frank Martin is undoubtedly a kind, gentle man who loves puppies. But on the sideline he looks like a raving maniac.) The Wildcats entered the season with crazy expectations. Then there were crazy suspensions. Crazy losses. The season was threatening to implode in its craziness.

Then, K-State senior Jacob Pullen drew a line in the sand. He made an emotional pronouncement. He was not going to the NIT. He would not play in anything less than the NCAA tournament. He’d walk away first.

That’s crazy, man. But it worked. Well, something worked. FOXSports.com’s Jeff Goodman detailed it beautifully the other day: Everyone in purple held himself accountable. Pullen went back to being unstoppable. Martin remains irascible.

(Turns out Martin had knee surgery the day after K-State’s big win over Texas this week. The report said he was “resting comfortably.” This is the only time Frank Martin and “resting comfortably” have spent time in the same sentence.)

And they not only saved the season, but these guys also are dangerous. As we enter March, Kansas State might be the most dangerous team in the country.

Our time

Texas A&M caps an unlikely run with its first NCAA title. Read more here.

It’s crazy, how it’s all turned out. But the Wildcats are not the only ones who are dangerous as we descend into madness.

Take Florida. We’ve been waiting for Florida to have a team since the title teams, and it has one now. The Gators are coming together.

This team has seniors (imagine that, in this day and age) and is starting to peak. See the game Tuesday night against ’Bama?

Plus there is coach Billy Donovan, who has been a tournament savant going all the way back to his playing days at Providence. (I liked his hair better then.)

And speaking of hair, there is George Mason. You don’t want to draw them. The Patriots have won 15 in a row and have vowed to avoid haircuts until they lose. This in itself is reason to believe. This has to happen, doesn’t it?

If George Mason goes deep into the tournament, by the end of the month it will have a whole team of guys who look like Jackie Moon.

ELE. Everybody Love Everybody.

Plus, all the kids who were named “George Mason” in the wake of the Patriots’ miracle Final Four run are about to turn 5. That’s mojo you just can’t go against.

BEAT THE EXPERT

Check out FOXSports.com college basketball writer Reid Forgrave's bracket and see how yours stacks up.

And if you’re looking for mid-majors, how about Belmont? The Bruins have two nine-game win streaks. They’ve played at Tennessee twice (lost by a point, 66-65, Dec. 23). The program has recent NCAA tournament experience (2006, 2007, 2008). And its coaching staff has been together forever. Plus, the Bruins can score (80.4 ppg). So I like ’em.

Unless they lose in the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament opener 10 minutes after this column comes out. In which case, forget it.

Speaking of losing, what about Michigan State? Yes, this is the worst Spartans team in recent memory, disappointing on any number of levels. But this is a wounded animal. And MSU is going to get into the NCAA tournament on reputation and name recognition, if nothing else.

And no way am I going to bet against Tom Izzo in the tournament. No way. He’ll have them put on football pads and beat them with blocking dummies or something, and the Spartans will knock you out of it, out of spite.

Finally, there is the Louisville cheerleader. Now, this guy is unpredictable. He’ll be dangerous in March. He’s already been dangerous.

You never know what he’ll do next. He’ll probably have his own reality show by the end of the month.

Buckle up. It’s March. It’s about to get dangerous. It’s about to get the best kind of crazy. And you know how I feel about that.

Tagged: Kansas State, Jacob Pullen

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