PREVIEW: Sweet 16 K-State vs. Michigan State 

Kansas State forward Nae’Qwan Tomlin guards against Oklahoma State in Bramlage Coliseum on Jan. 10. K-State won 65-57. (Archive photo by Nichole Maryse Harris | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in five years and look to knock off the Michigan State Spartans to advance to the Elite Eight.

Michigan State had a steady season, finishing 21-12 and earning fourth in the Big 10 under tenured head coach Tom Izzo. The team continues to be competitive entering tournament play.

The Spartans boast a trio of scorers in their starting rotation. Guards Tyson Walker and A.J. Hoggard and forward Joey Hauser each averaged over 12 points per game while playing the majority of minutes.

Hauser may be the most versatile of the three, averaging the second most points per game on the team, the most rebounds on the team with 7.1 per game, shoots 88% from the free-throw line and shoots over 44% from beyond the arch.

Walker put on an impressive performance against the No. 2 seeded Marquette Golden Eagles in the Round of 32. Walker posted 23 points on the Golden Eagles with two rebounds and two assists. His matchup with guard Markquis Nowell will be a one to watch.

Michigan State has had clear success under head coach Tom Izzo with his 15th trip to the Sweet 16 in 28 seasons. He looks to continue that success against the Wildcats as head coach Jerome Tang is building on a legacy of his own.

Other key matchups to watch will be how K-State chooses to guard the Spartans guards. Against Kentucky, K-State was able to put pressure on the perimeter while allowing forward Oscar Tshiebwe to be productive underneath. K-State will be able to have more opportunities for rebounding against the Spartans.

K-State continues to be dominant with the combination of Nowell and Keyontae Johnson. If Nowell is able to continue the elite play at his position and distribute the ball out properly, the Wildcats will have a good chance at making the Elite Eight.

One point of emphasis for K-State to improve upon from the game against Kentucky is 3-point shooting. Although K-State’s shots landed when they needed to the most in the final minutes against Kentucky, the purple and white Wildcats shot under 24% from 3 on the night.

It will practically be a reunion for many players on K-State, returning back home to New York City to face off in the Sweet 16. Nowell, guard Tykei Greene, and forwards Ismael Massoud and Nae’Qwan Tomlin all hail from the Big Apple.

K-State will look to survive and advance to its first Elite Eight appearance since the 2018 season, but first, the Wildcats have to take care of the Spartans at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.