McKale Center — Tucson, Ariz.
Thursday, March 17, 2011 — 8:57 PM CST
truTV | March Madness On Demand
I'm going to keep the hyperbole to a minimum here. We all know how important this game is. It goes without saying.
I just hope the team plays well. I hope Shane Southwell and Will Spradling gain valuable experience for the future. I hope Jamar Samuels finds his offensive confidence again. I hope Jordan Henriquez-Roberts continues his growth.
You can read Ahearn Alley's excellent preview of the Utah State match-up here.
BracketCat: Kansas State 66, Utah State 64
GAMER: Utah State 69, Kansas State 67
Pomeroy: Utah State 64, Kansas State 62
Sagarin: Utah State 64, Kansas State 63
From the K-State Sports Information Department:
Kansas State (22-10, 10-6 Big 12) men’s basketball team was rewarded for its successful 2010-11 season Sunday night, when the Wildcats earned their 25th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and their third in the last four seasons by receiving an at-large bid to the tournament.
The squad was selected as a No. 5 seed in the Southeast Region and traveled to Tucson, Ariz., to play No. 12 seed Utah State (30-3, 15-1 WAC) at McKale Center (13,693) at 8:57 p.m. CT today.
The winner will advance to play either No. 4 seed Wisconsin (23-8, 13-5 Big Ten) or No. 13 seed Belmont (30-4, 19-1 Atlantic Sun) on Saturday.
The Wildcats will be joined at the venue by No. 2 seed San Diego State, No. 7 seed Temple, No. 10 seed Penn State and No. 15 seed Northern Colorado, all of the West Region.
Aside from K-State and Wisconsin, the remaining top five seeds in the Southeast Region are No. 1 Pittsburgh, No. 2 Florida and No. 3 Brigham Young.
K-State is making its 32nd postseason appearance, which includes 25 in the NCAA Tournament and seven in the NIT.
It is the fifth straight postseason appearance for the Wildcats and the second consecutive in the NCAA Tournament.
Last season, the squad made a run to its 11th Elite Eight in school history, knocking off No. 15 seed North Texas (82-62), No. 7 seed BYU (84-72) and No. 6 seed Xavier (101-96 in two overtimes) before losing in the West Region final to eventual national runner-up Butler, 63-56.
The program has posted a 31-28 all-time record in NCAA Tournament play, including a 10-4 mark in first-round games.
The school will be making its first appearance in the Southeast Region, with its other trips coming in the Midwest (17-18), West (11-7), East (2-2) and South (0-1) regions.
K-State will be making its second appearance as a No. 5 seed and its first since a run to the Sweet Sixteen in 1981-82.
It tied for the third-highest seed in school history, trailing the No. 2 seed in 2009-10 and No. 4 seed in 1987-88.
Overall, it marked just the seventh time the Wildcats have earned a seeding of eighth or better in the NCAA Tournament.
In its 24 previous NCAA Tournament appearances, the team has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen a total of 16 times.
The program also has reached the Elite Eight 11 times, made four Final Four appearances and played in one national championship game (1951).
It marked the third trip to the NCAA Tournament for head coach Frank Martin, who has taken the squad to the second round in 2008 and the Elite Eight in 2010.
He is 4-2 in the NCAA Tournament and 5-3 overall in the postseason.
The Wildcats have not made consecutive trips to the Big Dance since four consecutive seasons from 1986 to 1990.
It will mark the first time the school has played an NCAA Tournament game in Tucson or the state of Arizona.
However, the Wildcats have played seven regular-season contests in Tucson, all against Arizona, dating back to 1951.
The team is 2-5 in those contests (wins in 1951 and 1980) in Tucson, including 1-4 at McKale Center, which opened in 1973.
The squad is 3-7 all-time in the state of Arizona (all have come against Arizona in Tucson and Arizona State in Tempe).
It will be the fifth all-time meeting between K-State and Utah State on the hardwood, with the Wildcats holding a 4-0 lead in the series.
The series dates back to a home-and-home series in 1949-50 (Jan. 3, 1950) and 1950-51 (Dec. 9, 1950), while it will be the first contest between the schools since Nov. 30, 1988, when the Wildcats posted a 86-67 at Bramlage Coliseum.
The two schools have not met on a neutral site or in the NCAA Tournament.
It will be just the second game with a Western Athletic Conference school in the NCAA Tournament, following a 69-48 loss to No. 7 seed New Mexico in Richmond, Va., on March 15, 1996.