In the first round of the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii Thursday, the Kansas State Wildcats face the Southern Illinois Salukis.
After a mostly under-the-radar non-conference season, the 7-1 Wildcats appear to be peaking at the right time, as they are coming off an impressive 71-58 defeat of previously nationally ranked Alabama.
The Classic, with an eight-team pool that also features Xavier, Clemson and Long Beach State, is a great chance for Kansas State to rack up some resume-boosting wins before the start of Big 12 conference play after the New Year.
However, a loss to Southern Illinois, a 3-5 team from the Missouri Valley Conference, would look very bad to the committee in March, when the Wildcats could be resting firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Kansas State, meanwhile, is a balanced team featuring four different players averaging between 11 and 13 points a game. Jordan Henriquez, a 7'0 junior center, has begun to emerge as a player after two years as a reserve in Manhattan, averaging 8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3 blocks a game.
The 3:30 PM game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.