K-State earns first postseason bid since 1999

MANHATTAN, Kan. Kansas State men’s basketball team was rewarded for its successful 2006-07 season on Sunday night, as the Wildcats earned their first trip to the postseason since 1999 with an at-large selection to the MasterCard NIT.


Kansas State (22-11, 10-6 Big 12) was selected as a No. 2 seed in the West Region and will play host to the No. 7 seed Vermont (25-7, 15-1) on Wednesday, March 14 at Bramlage Coliseum beginning at 7 p.m.  The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU.  The winner of the game will advance to play either No. 3 DePaul (18-13, 9-7 Big East) or No. 6 Hofstra (22-9, 14-4 Colonial) on the higher-seed’s homecourt on Monday, March 19.  Other match-ups in the region include No. 1 seed Air Force (23-8) hosting No. 8 Austin Peay (21-11) and No. 4 Georgia (18-13) hosting No. 5 Fresno State (22-9).  The winners of the four regionals will advance to Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 27-29.


Kansas State is making its 28th appearance in the postseason, including its sixth in the NIT.  It is the first postseason of any kind since the Wildcats dropped a 72-71 decision to TCU in the 1999 NIT at Bramlage Coliseum.  The program has posted a 4-6 all-time record in NIT play, including a 4-1 mark in games played at home.  K-State made its most successful trip to the NIT in 1994, where the Wildcats defeated Mississippi State, Gonzaga and Fresno State en route to advancing to the Final Four.  The Wildcats lost to Vanderbilt in the semifinals and Siena in the third-place game.


Vermont enters Wednesday’s game with a 25-7 overall record and the regular season championship of the America East Conference with a 15-1 mark.  The Catamounts have won 22 of their last 25 games, including a 13-game winning streak from Jan. 21 to March 4, before losing the tournament championship to No. 2 seed Albany on March 10.  The team earned one of its most impressive wins of the season in a 77-63 road victory over Boston College on Nov. 13, while they dropped tough decisions at Maryland (81-63) on Nov. 8 and at Michigan State (66-46) on Nov. 21.  Vermont went an impressive 13-3 on the road this season, including a perfect 8-0 mark in conference play.  It will be the first-ever meeting between the Wildcats and Catamounts as well as the first with any team from the America East Conference.


With Kansas State’s 2007 berth, head coach Bob Huggins has now guided 18 consecutive teams to the postseason (1988-89 at Akron; 1989-2005 at Cincinnati; 2007 at Kansas State).  Overall, Huggins has now led programs to the postseason in 20 of his 22 years as a Division I head coach.  This will be his fifth trip to the NIT and first since taking Cincinnati to the second round in 1991.


Under the direction of first-year head coach Bob Huggins, Kansas State has posted its highest win total (22) since the Mitch Richmond-led Wildcats earned 25 en route to the Elite Eight in 1988.  The Wildcats also posted 10 conference wins for the first time in the Big 12 era and for the first time since the 1987-88 squad tallied 11 in the Big Eight.  The 22 wins are the most by a first-year coach in school history, while Huggins is just third first-year coach (joining KansasBill Self and Texas Tech’s Bob Knight) in the Big 12 era to guide a team to both a 20-win and 10-win conference season.