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Kansas State Collegian

Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

Know Your Opponent: K-State hosts Portland for round of 64

WCC champ Portland travels to Bramlage for another upset victory attempt
Guard+Gabby+Gregory+celebrates+with+a+smile+and+clap+after+sealing+the+K-State+win.+The+Wildcats+beat+West+Virginia+65-62+in+the+quarterfinals+of+the+Big+12+tournament+located+at+the+T-Mobile+Center+in+Kansas+City%2C+Missouri+on+March+9.
Avery Johnson
Guard Gabby Gregory celebrates with a smile and clap after sealing the K-State win. The Wildcats beat West Virginia 65-62 in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament located at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri on March 9.
No. 4 K-State 25-7

Kansas State holds a major advantage as a four seed in the round of 64 and possibly the round of 32. Hosting a March Madness game with increased intensity should further improve home court advantage. Outside of playing at home, the Wildcats come off a competitive Big 12 tournament, nearly defeating No. 1 seed Texas. With center Ayoka Lee’s continued dominance and improved health, alongside a strong defense, K-State can take on anyone in the tournament.

No. 13 Portland 21-12

Portland was an unlikely March Madness team. The Pilots pulled off a major upset in the WCC championship over No. 5 seed Gonzaga to secure an automatic bid. Portland pulled off the upset with a full team effort, having different statistical leaders in all three main categories and four double-digit scorers. That theme held consistent all season, with different contributors all along the court, including women’s basketball’s No. 3 shot-blocker forward Lucy Cochrane.

Matchup to Watch: Ayoka Lee offense vs. Lucy Cochrane shot blocking

In another game determined by low-post play, everything for K-State runs through Lee, and every opponent must attempt to slow her down. Luckily for Portland, they have someone with a chance.

Standing at 6-foot-6, eye-level with the Wildcats’ low-post dominator, Cochrane is third in the nation in blocks per game with 3.1. Cochrane stepped up against Gonzaga, blocking four shots while blocking just two in the previous two blowout losses against the Bulldogs. Cochrane is not much of an offensive threat, but her defensive capabilities will truly be tested against Lee, determining if her weaker conference boosted her stats or if she is a lockdown post defender.

Lee regained momentum with improving health, and it showed at the Big 12 tournament. Lee averaged 23.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game in two games. She thrived in the first half, scoring 34 of her 47 points on 70% shooting. Both West Virginia with a smaller roster and Texas with a taller roster struggled to contain the All-American. Against any style, Lee displays the ability to dominate.

For Portland to have a chance, Cochrane must show out. If Lee dominates, a near-miracle must take place for the Pilots to pull off the upset. 

Key Players

K-State

Guard Gabby Gregory

Guard Brylee Glenn

Portland

Guard Emme Shearer

Guard Kianna Hamilton

Prediction: K-State 75-59

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About the Contributors
Luke Lazarczyk, sports writer
Sports editor for 2023-24. Previously sports editor for 2022-23 and writer for 2021-22.
Avery Johnson, multimedia editor
Multimedia editor for 2023-24. Previously photographer for spring 2023.
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