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Why Jerome Tang wants Kansas State to play in big-time openers like USC in Las Vegas

College basketball season arrives in new and exciting fashion for Kansas State.

Instead of opening the year at home inside Bramlage Coliseum the Wildcats will play their first game at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Rather than matching up with an inferior opponent from a mid-major conference, the Wildcats are going to play the USC Trojans, who are ranked No. 21 in the nation.

And TNT will televise the action instead of ESPN+.

Opening night is usually a dud. Not this year. It will be a must-see when K-State takes on USC at 9 p.m. on Monday.

“I’m excited,” K-State wing Arthur Kaluma said. “Who wouldn’t want to have the opportunity to play on that big stage as a college basketball player?”

It will be interesting to see how things play out for both teams in Las Vegas. No matter what happens, K-State basketball coach Jerome Tang would like to schedule more openers like this.

He is a big fan of marquee games that take place early in the season. He likes the exposure that comes with them. Games like this also tend to come with lots of teaching moments that can be valuable for a team.

When K-State was approached about playing in this game, Tang didn’t hesitate to make it happen.

“This is actually the first time I have coached in an opening game where you’re playing an opponent the caliber of USC,” Tang said. “I just feel like there’s no losing in this one, right? You’re going to win and learn or you’re going to lose and learn. It’s going to be a great experience for us to see where we are at and where we want to get to.”

Tang is also fired up to play a game on TNT.

College basketball fans usually have to make it to the NCAA Tournament to get that opportunity.

For that, and many other reasons, this feels like a big game.

“All of America gets to see it,” Tang said. “There are going to be a lot of really good recruits out there watching, and they will see that Kansas State plays in those types of events. I always say that TV follows the players. It’s not the names on the front. If you get the best players they will put you in the best events. That’s our goal, to play in these kinds of things year in and year out, because we have the best players.”