MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State will tip off the 2020-21 men’s basketball season by hosting the inaugural Little Apple Classic on Wednesday and Friday, November 25 and 27 at Bramlage Coliseum with a field that will include former conference foe Colorado and fellow 20-game winners Drake and South Dakota State.
Each team is expected to play two games with Colorado and South Dakota State tipping off the tournament on Wednesday followed by a matchup between K-State and Drake. The teams will flip on the final day with Drake and SDSU competing in the first game on Friday followed by the renewal of the rivalry between the Wildcats and Buffaloes for the first time in nearly a decade.
Ticket information as well as tip times and television broadcast information will be released at a later date.
“We are excited about the opportunity to host these three quality programs for the Little Apple Classic at Bramlage Coliseum to kick off the season,” said head coach Bruce Weber. “All three teams won 20 or more games ago, so it should be a really, competitive environment and a great opportunity for our team to start at home. We look forward to being tremendous hosts and providing a great experience for these teams and fans.”
All three teams won 20 or more games in 2019-20 and return at least one all-conference player in 2020-21 highlighted by reigning Summit League Player of the Year Douglas Wilson (18.6 ppg., 6.4 rpg.) of South Dakota State, All-Pac-12 First Team selection McKinley Wright IV (14.4 ppg., 5.7 rpg., 5.0 apg.) of Colorado and Missouri Valley Conference assist leader Roman Penn (12.0 ppg., 5.6 apg.) of Drake.
South Dakota State captured a share of 2019-20 Summit League regular-season title with a 22-10 overall record, including a 13-3 mark in conference play, under first-year head coach Eric Henderson. Colorado won 21 games a season ago – the seventh 20-win season for the Buffaloes under 11th-year head coach Tad Boyle – which included 10 in Pac-12 play to finish in a tie for fifth place. Drake collected its second consecutive 20-win campaign under current third-year head coach Darian DeVries, which included an 8-10 mark in Missouri Valley play.
With just one senior in Mike McGuirl, the host Wildcats will be one of the youngest teams in the country, but boast the highest-rated recruiting class under Weber and the highest collective class by K-State since recruiting rankings have been kept. Four of the five prep players were rated among the Top 200 players nationally, including three members (Selton Miguel, Nijel Pack and Davion Bradford) of the Rivals150, while junior Rudi Williams and sophomore Carlton Linguard, Jr. were considered two of the top junior college players in the country.
This will mark the first time K-State has hosted a men’s tournament in this format at Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats did host Alabama-Huntsville and Lamar for two games in the Midwest Regional of the NIT Season Tip-Off on November 12-13, 2012 in Weber’s first season before heading to the Championship Round in New York City.
K-State will face Drake for the first time in more than six decades and the first time in a season opener since 1952. The Wildcats lead the series, 20-6, including 10-2 at home, but this will be the first meeting since a 90-41 victory over the Bulldogs at Ahearn Field House on December 18, 1956.
K-State and Colorado have met 143 dating back to 1933, including as conference opponents from 1948 until 2011. The Wildcats hold a 96-47 advantage in the all-time series, including a 54-10 mark at home. The Buffaloes swept all three games in their final season in the Big 12 in 2011, including a 74-66 victory in their last visit to Bramlage Coliseum on January 12, 2011 in Boyle’s first season.
This will be the first visits to Bramlage Coliseum by both Drake and South Dakota State.
K-State continues to alter its original non-conference schedule after the NCAA announced on September 16 that it was pushing the season back from its original start date of Tuesday, November 10 to Wednesday, November 25 and reducing the number of games due to the ongoing COV-19 pandemic.
The Little Apple Classic takes the place of the Cayman Islands Classic, which was canceled on September 30.
The remainder of the 2020-21 schedule will be released as it becomes official.