K-State earns first NCAA bid since 1996

MANHATTAN, Kan. Kansas State men’s basketball team was rewarded for its successful 2007-08 season on Sunday night, as the Wildcats earned their 23rd appearance in the NCAA Tournament and first in 12 seasons by receiving an at-large bid to the tournament.


Kansas State (20-11, 10-6 Big 12) was selected as a No. 11 seed in the Midwest Region and will travel to Omaha, Neb., to play No. 6 seed USC (21-11, 11-7 Pac-10) at Qwest Center Omaha (17,560) on Thursday, March 20 at 6:10 p.m. CST.  The winner will advance to play either No. 3 seed Wisconsin (29-4, 16-2 Big Ten) or No. 14 seed Cal State Fullerton (24-8, 12-4 Big West) on Saturday, March 22 at 3:20 p.m. CST. 

Since 1979, the Wildcats are 0-1 as No. 11 seed and 0-2 against a No. 6 seed.  K-State will be joined at the venue by No. 1 seed Kansas, No. 8 seed UNLV, No. 9 seed Kent State and No. 16 seed Portland State.  The top four seeds in the region are No. 1 Kansas, No. 2 Georgetown, No. 3 Wisconsin and No. 4 Vanderbilt. The program will be making its 15th appearance in the Midwest Region and first since 1990 with a 16-17 record all-time.


Kansas State athletics officials also announced Sunday night that donors to the Ahearn Scholarship Fund at the $10,000 level and above will have first opportunity to purchase tickets for Thursday’s NCAA match-up between the Wildcats and USC in Omaha.


Tickets for the First and Second Rounds at the Qwest Center in Omaha are sold out.  Each of the participating teams receive 550 tickets for the session in which they play, which includes tickets for Kansas State’s team, administrative and university needs.


Given the limited availability of tickets, K-State will not accept any orders at this time for the games in Omaha.


Kansas State is making its 29th postseason appearance, which includes 23 in the NCAA Tournament and six in the Postseason NIT.  It marks the second straight postseason appearance for the Wildcats and the first in the NCAA Tournament since losing to No. 7 seed New Mexico, 69-48, in the first round of the East Regional in Richmond, Va., on March 15, 1996.  The program has posted a 27-26 all-time record in NCAA Tournament play, including an 8-4 mark in first round games.  However, K-State has dropped four straight in first round play and has not won a tournament game since beating No. 1 seed Purdue, 73-70, in the Midwest Regional Semifinals on March 25, 1988.


In Kansas State’s 22 previous NCAA Tournament appearances, the Wildcats have advanced to the Sweet 16 a total of 16 times.  The program has also reached the Elite Eight 11 times, made four Final Four appearances and played in one National Championship game (1951). 


In snapping a 12-year absence from NCAA Tournament, K-State ended one of the longest NCAA Tournament droughts in the nation.  The streak ranked tied for 12th among programs hailing from a major conference, joining San Jose State (1996).  K-State is also one of five schools to snap lengthy NCAA droughts in 2008, joining Cal State Fullerton (1978), Drake (1971), Baylor (1988) and Boise State (1994). 


The Wildcats were one of six Big 12 squads to earn berths in tournament, joining No. 1 seed Kansas (Midwest) No. 2 seed Texas (South), No. 6 Oklahoma (East), No. 9 Texas A&M (West) and No. 11 Baylor (West) in the field.  The six bids to the NCAA Tournament tie for the most in league history (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005) and the most since also receiving six in 2005.