OKLAHOMA CITY—Kansas State had a great chance to build its NCAA Tournament resume and lose the dreaded “bubble” distinction.
A first-round bye in the Big 12 Tournament.
A proving-point second-round game against Texas.
A would-be semi-final game against a tired Baylor team that will be playing its third game in three days.
It was a perfect scenario to make its NCAA Tournament plea.
Then, the bubble might have burst—Kansas State lost, 61-58.
“What do you want me to tell you, we don’t deserve to be here?” Wildcats coach Frank Martin said following the loss, when asked about his team’s tournament chances.
It was the beginning of 2:50 speech/statement/rant by Martin on why K-State should be in the big dance.
So do they belong?
Texas only further solidified its big dance status by beating the Wildcats on Thursday.
Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Oklahoma State are locks.
Texas A&M and Kansas State remain on the proverbial bubble.
Martin said without saying the classic cliché, “it’s not how you start, its how you finish,” but that was his point.
The Wildcats played a very weak non-conference schedule, going the “state” route, as in Southeast Missouri State, Emporia State, Idaho State and Chicago State. In fact, its best non-conference win was against a “state” school—a victory at Cleveland State—a team that upset Butler in the Horizon League Tournament Championship.
The Wildcats lost all three major conference schools they played, dropping contests against Kentucky, Iowa and Oregon.
Then it lost its first four Big 12 Conference games. Though, before today’s game versus Texas, K-State had won 10 of its last 13.
Should the tournament committee take six from the Big 12?
The league’s four teams that finished tied for fourth all proved they belong in the tournament during conference play.
The biggest difference between Kansas State, Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State?
Texas and Oklahoma State played a tough non-conference schedule and it should be the deciding factor when it comes time to choose who’s in and who’s out.
And it’s what could put the Aggies and the Wildcats in the NIT instead of the NCAA’s.
“Did we have a great non-conference schedule? No,” Martin said. “Everyone in the country that played Butler gets credit for playing a good basketball team. No one played Butler at Butler other than its conference teams. We go to play Cleveland State at Cleveland State, everyone views that as a bad win.”
“Give me a break.”
Martin better hope the tournament committee does come Sunday.