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No. 3: Kansas State Wildcats

Image (1) ksu-logo.jpg for post 333

2009-10 record: 29-8 (11-5), tied for second in Big 12
Lost to Butler in Elite Eight
Coach: Frank Martin, 72-32 3 years
Last NCAA miss: 2009

2010-11 roster [click here]
2010-11 schedule [click here] The good: Jacob Pullen and the frontcourt. Sounds like a band, and a really good one at that. Pullen’s a national player of the year candidate who can hit the 3, drive the lane and d-up the team’s best opposing guard. Fear the Beard? Without a doubt.

He’s backed by the nation’s toughest frontcourt. If Curtis Kelly, Jamar Samuels and Wally Judge don’t grab rebounds and defend, they get a scowl from coach Frank Martin. That’s motivation. Add transfer Freddy Asprilla to that frontcourt mix and the Wildcats can rumble with anyone.

The bad: K-State’s rough-and-tumble style often leads to foul trouble for its forwards, while opponents head to the free-throw line. A lot. Foes got 26 percent of their point against K-State at the charity stripe (the D-I average is 21 percent).

Still, Martin’s not about to change the ‘Cats’ style. They also shot a ton of free throws last season.

The unknown: Pullen can’t play both guard spots, which makes finding Denis Clemente’s paramount. Does guard Rodney McGruder step in? Or does K-State turn to Martavious Irving, Nick Russell or even freshman Shane Southwell? Perhaps none of them if Nino Williams is comfortable at off guard.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.