For a Kansas State team sitting squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble as March approaches, Tuesday night's home game against Texas Tech is more challenge than opportunity.
A loss to the Red Raiders, who are 0-10 in Big 12 play in their first year under coach Billy Gillispie, would be a scarlet letter they would carry on their resume the rest of the season.
The Wildcats have already beaten them in Lubbock this year, winning 69-47 on Jan. 25. Kansas State was carried by their experienced back-court duo of Rodney McGruder and Martavious Irving, who combined to score 29 points on 12-23 shooting.
Only two of the Red Raiders starters -- 6'7 freshman forward Jordan Tolbert and 5'8 freshman guard Kevin Wagner -- scored in the game that was never really in doubt, with the Wildcats outscoring Texas Tech by more than ten points in each half.
Former coach Pat Knight didn't leave much in the cupboard for Gillispie, who is making a comeback to D1 basketball after his once meteoric career flamed out in Kentucky amidst off-the-court rumors about alcoholism.
Gillispie is the man who turned the Texas A&M basketball program earlier in the decade, putting the Aggies on a map and starting a streak of six straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
A win at Kansas State would be a huge start to the foundation he's trying to build in Lubbock, in the same way that a loss would be devastating for Frank Martin's program, trying to make its third straight trip to the Big Dance.
The 7:00 PM game will be broadcast regionally on the Big 12 Sports Network and streamed online at ESPN3.