By Mark Janssen
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Let me give you one phrase and it's just three words: Strength of Schedule.
Let it be said there's another month of the regular season to be played, but as of today, here's where the phrase comes into play for Kansas State.
K-State Men: With a record of 16-8 and a Big 12 mark of 4-5, good for only a tie for eighth in the standings, the Wildcats are in the NCAA Tournament. ESPN's Joe Lunardi has the Wildcats as a No. 12 seed and one of the last four teams in.
K-State Women: With a record of 16-5, and a fourth-place Big 12 mark of 6-2, the Wildcats, according to ESPN's Charlie Crème on Jan. 31, are not even close to being in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats aren't even on the listing of his top eight teams out of the tourney.
The partial reason is the phrase mentioned earlier - Strength of Schedule.
Frank Martin's troops have a SOS of No. 15; Deb Patterson's charges have a SOS of No. 83.
The guys have played the likes of Duke, Kansas, UNLV, Missouri and Texas A&M. Even though the Wildcats lost to each of those teams, they played them and all are ranked among the top 32 teams in the RPI poll.
Now, the reason the men are on the most fragile side of that NCAA bubble is because their biggest wins have been over No. 65 Virginia Tech, No. 69 Washington State and No. 79 Gonzaga.
The women have played the likes of Oklahoma, St. John's, Iowa and Texas Tech, who are all in the Top 40. Their biggest victory was over No. 27 St. John's.
Now, the K-State women will take immediate strides in that SOS with games coming up against No. 36 Texas, No. 28 Iowa State (twice), No. 3 Baylor and No. 6 Texas A&M.
According to ESPN's Lunardi, Kansas and Texas will be No. 1 seeds, Texas A&M a No. 5, Missouri a No. 6 and K-State a No. 12.
The RPI bracket includes Kansas and Texas as No. 1s, Texas A&M a No. 6, Missouri a No. 7, Oklahoma a No. 10, and Kansas State a No. 11.
According to ESPN's Creme, Baylor is a No. 1 seed, Texas A&M a No. 2, Iowa State a No. 6 and Texas a No. 7.
RPI goes with Baylor and Texas A&M as No. 1s, Oklahoma a No. 4, Iowa State a No. 8, Texas Tech a No. 9 and Texas a No. 10.
With all that said, there's still another month of hoops left to be played.
Magic Numbers: In case you were wondering, "9" is the magic number for men's and women's Big 12 teams to get into the NCAA's March "Dance."
That's "9" Big 12 Conference victories ... and even then it's not an absolute.
Here's what history tells us about the first 14 years of Big 12 men's hoops.
• On average, five to six teams go "Dancin'." It's been as high as seven, like last year, but also as low as four in four different years, and as recently as 2007 and 2006.
• A 10-6* league record is nearly a lock to get into the NCAA event. Only twice - K-State in 2007 and Nebraska in 1999 - has a team that won 10 conference contests not advanced.
• A 9-7 league record has advanced 16 out of 19 times. The only misses were K-State in 2009, Colorado in 2006, and Missouri in 2004.
• An 8-8 team has advanced to the NCAA Tournament only once - Texas A&M in 2008. As strange as it sounds, only six times in Big 12 history has a team finished 8-8.
*(Note: This does not included the 1997 Texas Tech team that went 10-6, but had to forfeit games.)
For the women, it's much the same for the 14-year Big 12 history.
• On average, six teams go to the NCAA Tournament. It's been as high as eight in 2008, and as low as four in 2006 and 1998.
• Twice teams that have gone 10-6 did not make the NCAA field (Oklahoma State and Baylor in 1998) and twice 9-7 teams (Texas Tech in 2006 and Missouri in 2003) did not make the elite field.
• An 8-8 team has advanced to the "Dance" five times and even a 7-9 league team has made the NCAA Tournament three times.
For Argument's Sake
Here's a look at 'Sports Extras' mid-year all-Big 12 basketball awards, which differ somewhat dramatically of those of the league's coaches prior to the season. (Preseason pick of league coaches):
• Team of the Year: Texas ... a preseason choice at third, the Longhorns have proven to be the conference's top team by way of its undefeated record, which includes a win at Kansas. (Preseason - K-State)
• Coach of the Year: UT's Rick Barnes
• Player of the Year: Marcus Morris, Kansas (Preseason - Jacob Pullen, K-State)
• Freshman of the Year: Tristan Thompson, Texas (Preseason -- Josh Selby, Kansas)
• Top Five: Marcus Morris, KU; Markeiff Morris, KU; Jordan Hamilton, UT; Alec Burks, CU; Jacob Pullen, K-State (Preseason - LaceDarius Dunn, BU; Cory Higgins, CU; Marcus Morris, KU; Curtis Kelly, K-State; Jacob Pullen, K-State)
• Second Five: LaceDarius Dunn, BU; Marshall Moses, OSU; Quincy Acy, BU; Tristan Thompson, UT; Marcus Denmon, MU
• Team of the Year: Baylor ... being No. 1 in the nation speaks for itself. (Preseason: Baylor)
• Coach of the Year: K-State's Deb Patterson ... her Wildcats were picked ninth in the preseason poll and are now in fourth place and just a half game in back of third-place Oklahoma.
• Player of the Year: Danielle Adams, Texas A&M (Preseason - Brittney Griner, BU)
• Freshman of the Year: Odyssey Sims, Baylor (Preseason -- Sims, BU)
• Top Five: Danielle Adams, A&M; Brittney Griner, BU; Danielle Robinson, OU; RaeShara Brown, MU; Kelsey Bolte, ISU (Preseason - Adams, Griner, Robinson, Bolte and Mellisa Jones, BU)
• Second Five: Brittany Chambers, K-State; Chassidy Fussell, UT; Aaryn Ellenberg, OU; Melissa Jones, BU; Odyssey Sims, BU