File Kansas State’s 76-67 win at home over Presbyterian last night as the granddaddy of all mid-major close calls so far this season. Whether your preferred analytical frame of reference is “Ghostbusters” (dogs and cats living together), kenpom.com (99.6 percent win probability for the Wildcats), or some mix of the two, a Blue Hose win would have given you the opportunity–nay, the solemn duty–to run around screaming with your hands above your head.
Mike Portscheller has a great write-up on Presbyterian in our College Basketball Prospectus 2010-11. The Blue Hose are still making the jump to D-I and won’t even be eligible to participate in the Big South tournament, much less March Madness, until next year. As a result coach Gregg Nibert has aligned everything and everyone in the program with an eye toward grabbing that 2012 NCAA auto-bid. Specifically Presbyterian red-shirted the bulk of their rotation last year as juniors, so that the Big South will be looking at a veteran and senior-led team next season in 2011-12. Like a World Bank-mandated deflation, that decision inflicted severe pain in the short-term–the Blue Hose went 4-26 against D-I opponents last year–but it may turn out to be pure long-term genius if last night is any indication.
And of course last night may not be any indication at all. This same team lost to Vanderbilt last Friday by 41. Al’Lonzo Coleman, he of the 15-14 double-double last night, is clearly a load at 6-7, but that being said maybe K-State simply laid an egg. That seems to be Frank Martin’s assessment: “I told the guys after the game I hope they have a good social life. Because I’m getting ready to ruin it.” Who’d a thunk Martin’s team would have so little margin for error in what turned into a 64-possession shootout? The fact that K-State only committed four turnovers the whole night actually mattered. Utterly bizarre.
If the first ten days are a fair sample, 2010-11’s going to be a lot of fun.