March 16, 2014
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State was rewarded yet another successful season on Sunday, as the Wildcats earned their school-record fifth consecutive and 28th overall bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances ties for the ninth-longest active streak in the country with Florida and trails Kansas (25), Duke (19), Michigan State (17), Wisconsin (16), Gonzaga (16), Louisville (9), Ohio State (6) and Syracuse (6). The 28 overall bids ties Oklahoma for the third-most among Big 12 schools.
K-State (20-12, 10-8 Big 12) was selected as a No. 9 seed in the Midwest Regional and will travel to St. Louis, Mo., to play No. 8 Kentucky (24-10, 12-6 SEC) on Friday, March 21 at the Scotttrade Center. The winner will advance to play either No. 1 seed Wichita State (34-0, 18-0 Missouri Valley) and/or Cal Poly (13-19, 6-10 Big West) and Texas Southern (19-14, 12-6 SWAC) on Sunday, March 23. The Wildcats will be joined at the venue by No. 2 seed Kansas, No. 7 seed New Mexico, No. 10 seed Stanford and No. 15 seed Eastern Kentucky of the South Regional. The top seeds in the Midwest Regional are No. 1 Wichita State, No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Duke and No. 4 Louisville.
K-State and Kentucky will tip off at 8:40 pm CT or 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game of the evening session between Wichita State and/or Cal Poly and Texas Southern on Friday. The game will be broadcast nationally on CBS Sports with Jim Nantz, Greg Anthony and Tracy Wolfson.
Tickets are available to current Ahearn Fund members, men's basketball season ticket holders, faculty staff and alumni who did not place a pre-order. Fans should call the K-State Ticket Office at (800) 221.CATS on Monday between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Tickets are priced at $86 for each session in which K-State participates. Orders placed for Friday will automatically be rolled over to Sunday should K-State advance to the third round. All seats will be assigned in order of K-State Athletics priority points after those who reserved tickets by the March 14 pre-order deadline. Any tickets remaining on Tuesday, March 18 will be made open to the public at 8:30 a.m.
Kansas State is making its 35th postseason appearance, which includes 28 in the NCAA Tournament and seven in the Postseason NIT. It extends its school-record streak of consecutive postseason appearances to eight, while it sets the school mark for consecutive NCAA Tournaments bids to five. The six trips to the NCAA Tournaments in the last seven years is the best stretch in school history. Seniors Omari Lawrence, Ryan Schultz, Shane Southwell and Will Spradling are just the third senior class to reach four consecutive NCAA Tournaments, tying the mark set by the 1989-90 and 2012-13 classes.
Last season, the fourth-seeded Wildcats fell to 13-seed La Salle, 63-61, in the NCAA West Regional second round at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. The team trailed by as many as 18 points before nearing completing the greatest comebacks in school history. K-State has a 6-5 NCAA Tournament mark in its last five appearances.
The program has posted a 33-31 all-time record in NCAA Tournament play, including a 6-4 mark in second round games. The school will be making its 16th appearance in the Midwest Regional with its other trips coming in 1956, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1964, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1988, 1990 and 2008 and is 17-18 all-time in the region. K-State will be making its second appearance as a No. 9 seed and the first since the 1987 NCAA Tournament, in which, the Wildcats defeated another SEC foe, Georgia, 82-79, in overtime before falling to UNLV, 80-61, in Salt Lake City. Overall, the school is 1-1 as a No. 9 seed.
The school will play an NCAA Tournament game in St. Louis for the second time in its history after losing to Boston College, 69-65, in the Midwest Regional semifinals on March 19, 1982.
In K-State's 27 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).
Head coach Bruce Weber becomes the sixth different coach to lead K-State to multiple NCAA Tournament appearances and joins Lon Kruger as the only coaches to accomplish the feat in his first two seasons. Overall, Weber advances to his 10th NCAA Tournament, which includes six at Illinois and two at Southern Illinois. He is 41st head coach in NCAA history to take three different schools to the tournament, including the 21st active coach. He has an 11-9 record in the NCAA Tournament with three trips to the Sweet 16 and the 2005 Final Four.
Weber is very familiar with St. Louis and the Scottrade Center in his career, having played in the city during his stint at Southern Illinois (1998-2003) during the Missouri Valley Tournament as well as his time at Illinois (2003-12) and its annual Braggin' Rights Game with Missouri. His 2004-05 Illinois squad made a run to the NCAA Championship game in St. Louis, defeating Louisville in the national semifinals before falling to North Carolina in the finals.
Kentucky enters Friday's game with a 24-10 overall record, which includes a tie for second-place in the Southeastern Conference with a 12-6 mark. The team is led by head coach John Calipari, who led the Wildcats to four trips to the NCAA Tournament, two Final Fours (2011 and 2012) and the 2012 national championship. He has a 592-176 record in 22 seasons (Massachusetts, Memphis and Kentucky), including a 147-36 mark in his fifth season in Lexington. The balanced squad has four players averaging in double figures led by SEC Freshman of the Year Julius Randle, who is averaging a double-double of 15 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
The Wildcats will be making their NCAA-record 53rd appearance in the NCAA Tournament, which includes eight national championships and 15 trips to the Final Four.
K-State will face Kentucky for the ninth time on the hardwood, including the second time in the NCAA Tournament. The blue-clad Wildcats are 8-0 all-time in the series, including 3-0 on neutral courts (1951, 1976 and 2008). The two teams last met in the NCAA Tournament way back in 1951, as Kentucky posted a 68-58 win in the national championship game in Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minn. The two teams have not met since Kentucky posted a 74-72 win at the first round of the Las Vegas Invitational at the Orleans Arena on Nov. 28, 2008.
K-State is 157-144 all-time against Southeastern Conference schools, including a 28-16 mark at neutral site games. The Wildcats have faced three SEC teams in their NCAA Tournament history, including Kentucky (1951), Arkansas (1980 and 1982) and Georgia (1987), boasting a 3-1 record.
K-State was one of a Big 12-record tying seven teams to earn berths in NCAA Tournament, joining No. 2 seed Kansas (South), No. 3 seed Iowa State (East), No. 5 seed Oklahoma (West), No. 6 seed Baylor (West), No. 7 seed Texas (Midwest) and No. 9 seed Oklahoma State (West) in the field. The Wildcats also faced two other squads that advanced to the NCAA Tournament, including No. 8 seed Gonzaga (West) and No. 9 seed George Washington (East). Of the Wildcats' 32 games, 15 were played against NCAA Tournament teams.
In addition, all three Division I programs in the state of Kansas (Kansas, Kansas State and Wichita State) all advanced to the NCAA Tournament for third consecutive season.