So last year I discussed the importance of the last regular season basketball game- Oklahoma State. I chose that game because I felt it was the most important game of the year. This year, based on the way the season has progressed (14-0, then 0-3), I feel that this upcoming game versus the Wildcats the most important of the year. I understand the case for most important game could be made for Iowa and Michigan, however, this is a conference game, with a chance to end the 3 game losing streak on the line.
The Wildcats, currently ranked number 22, have been inconsistent. They've lost to cakewalk teams such as Northern Colorado and Charlotte but also rattled off 10 in a row at one point, which included wins against Oklahoma St. and Gonzaga. K State's stats are underwhelming, although one thing stands out: 4-1 in Big 12 play. Kansas St. has beaten Oklahoma State, @TCU, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. The lone loss was to Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse, a place where any Big 12 team will be lucky to get a win.
What makes this game so important is the possibility of ending the 3 game losing streak and righting the (very rapidly) sinking ship. 2-3 in the Big 12 from this team, and all the talent it has, is not good. A team that has a potential All American, a leading scorer in the Big 12, a super sophomore, and one of the most underrated players in the country should not have lost to Texas. The lack of size is really starting to hurt this team, and the Big 12 knows it.
And now the Bubu Palo situation
Personally, I'm not a huge fan of a point guard who can't consistently knock down jump shots (Rajon Rondo is the exception), however, I believe Bubu could be a very valuable asset to this team. His leadership could be a huge boost for this team. His hustle play and defense could also be key down the stretch, especially if Matt Thomas continues to struggle. I've seen some people on social media say that he could hurt the team. I wholeheartedly disagree. Bubu's upside (experience, defense, ball handling) greatly outweigh his downside (consistency, shooting). Whether or not he gets big playing time remains an uncertainty, but my prediction is that he slides ahead of Sherron Dorsey- Walker but remains behind Thomas and Morris. The rotation could also potentially increase by 1 to 8 guys instead of the normal 7. Especially since this team is struggling right now, Bubu could potentially be a catalyst for the start of another win streak.
Recap: This game could be the difference in moral for the season. Losing this one drops the struggling Cyclones to 2-4 in Big 12 play, with monster games @Kansas and @Oklahoma St on the horizon. A win gives the Clones a moral boost and some confidence going into those games, and gets to .500 in league play. Needless to say, Hilton Magic will need to be in full effect on Saturday for ISU to take home a W, and right the ship.