MANHATTAN (TNS) — If Kansas State finishes the regular season with a victory over Baylor on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum, the Wildcats will be well-positioned for an NCAA Tournament bid.
At the least, history will be on their side.
Every Big 12 team with a winning conference record has made the NCAA Tournament since 2009, and every Big 12 team with 10 or more conference victories has made it since 2007. K-State (20-10, 9-8 Big 12) can match both criteria by beating Baylor (18-12, 8-9).
“I am still pretty confident that we are sitting in a pretty good spot,” junior K-State forward Dean Wade said. “If we get this one Saturday we will be in a really, really good spot.”
Never miss a local story.
Most experts project K-State to make the NCAA Tournament field as a double-digit seed, but back-to-back losses have dropped the Wildcats near the cut line. Another conference victory, particularly against a fellow bubble team, would significantly boost their postseason credentials.
ESPN bracket expert Joe Lunardi currently has K-State as a No. 10 seed, above at least eight other bubble contenders. CBS expert Jerry Palm has K-State as a No. 11 seed, above just four teams.
There’s a chance the Wildcats have already done enough to earn a repeat trip to the NCAA Tournament. After all, they have made it the last six times they won 20 games.
K-State coach Bruce Weber thinks finishing in the top half of the conference standings will help.
“I just hope the committee appreciates it,” Weber said. “… (The Big 12) is very deserving of at least eight, maybe nine (teams). I look at other schedules and watch. You can say nonconference schedule and all that, but I’m talking 18 games plus the SEC game. You’re talking about 19 games against high-level teams every night. Nobody else can match that in the country.”
There’s also a chance K-State still has work to do. Its RPI (62) and strength of schedule (92) aren’t as strong as some bubble teams. And it was the unlucky team that went to the NIT in 2007 and 2009 with a winning Big 12 record.
Another win could provide some margin for error before the conference tournament.
“We have got a war. We have got a fight,” Weber said. “I don’t want pressure or stress. I want urgency and energy and competitive spirit and emotion. If we do that stuff, we will find a way to win.”
Following Saturday's regular-season finale, the Big 12 tournament pairings will be announced, with that tipping off Wednesday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.