Just one week ago, Kansas State was as much of a sure thing for at least a #2 seed as Brazil is to make the World Cup every four years.
Even after a predictable mid-week setback in Lawrence, the Wildcats seemed to have the inside track to the 4th No. 1 seed. Suddenly, though, Frank Martin’s squad is looking like it could Lemon its way into a No. 3 seed.
After that disaster on Saturday, Joe Lunardi has the ‘Cats as a No. 2 seed, but I don’t think they’re standing on solid ground. So, what do the Wildcats need to do to ensure they don’t slip all the way down to No. 3?
Well, a win in the first round of the Big 12 tourney would seem to be almost mandatory, barring other major upsets. That won’t be easy, with Oklahoma State the likely opponent if they can knock off Oklahoma. The Cowboys are a dangerous team, especially if First-Team All Big 12 caliber guard James Anderson gets hot. Plus, let’s not forget that Oklahoma State actually beat Kansas State in Manhattan.
Oddly enough, it might actually be a good thing that the Wildcats don’t play any more home games this season. Kansas State hasn’t been close to its best at Bramlage for a full 40 minutes since a hard-fought OT loss to Kansas on Jan. 30, and the Wildcats were 10-3 away from Manhattan this season. That should help them in the eyes of the selection committee.
But I wonder if it will mean bad news for Kansas State in Oklahoma City, their most likely destination for the first two rounds. It seems absurd to say, but maybe this team would actually do better if it was shipped out to one of the coasts, far away from its legions of adoring fans.
Maybe the biggest question mark in terms of seeding is the most obvious sore spot on the Wildcats’ resume: the lack of a signature win (thanks a lot, Texas). Brigham Young is the only other team in the AP Top 20 who does not have a win against a top 15 team. The Wildcats’ best win came at No. 21 Baylor.
Of course, that unsettling statistic does come with a major caveat. The only team in the top 20 that Kansas State has played is No. 1 Kansas, and there’s no shame in losing to the Jayhawks. Still, you have to wonder how the committee will factor that into their decision.
On the bright side, Kansas State has beaten a lot of above-average teams this season. The Wildcats are 6-2 against NCAA tournament teams not named Kansas, plus 2-0 against teams in the first eight out (according to Lunardi’s latest bracketology). That includes wins against Baylor, No. 23 Texas A&M and No. 24 Xavier. It would seem to be a strong indicator that Kansas State does belong in that upper tier, even if they haven’t gotten a chance to prove it definitively.
In the end, a win against Oklahoma State (or Oklahoma) on Thursday should be enough to help the Wildcats remain a No. 2 seed, but a win on Friday against Baylor or Texas (or Iowa St.?) would certainly cement that status. If Ohio St. and Duke lose their next game, and West Virginia and Purdue don’t pull any upsets, maybe the ‘Cats could even snag that final No. 1 seed with at least a decent performance against Kansas on Saturday.
But even if Kansas State were as successful and savvy as Jack Donaghy , that would be a bit ambitious.
This article was written by hongabear of Ahearn Alley
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