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Kansas State is going to the NCAA tournament, so now it's just a matter of where they'll end up.
Well, I can't even sort of pretend Kansas State might not make the tournament anymore like I did last week, so it's time to switch up the format a bit. We could still talk about the rest of the Big 12, I guess, but who really cares? Plus, Andy Glockner does a pretty solid job with his Bubble Watch (yeah, this is last week's until he updates).
I really don't want to jinx anything and I honestly believe that team to the East is still very much in the driver's seat as long as they have a game advantage plus a game left against the ‘Cats in Allen Fieldhouse. Needless to say, though, we are much, much closer to having an actual Big 12 race than we were a week ago.
One thing I am confident of is that K-State is the only team with a chance to unseat the Jayhawks. Iowa State can't win on the road (TCU doesn't count), OSU simply doesn't have the talent, Baylor is still coached by Scott Drew, and sorry, OU, but Kansas hasn't lost more than 4 games in conference play since 2000.
That leaves only the Wildcats with any chance at all, and while a shared title would be a major source of pride, only an outright title would end that God forsaken streak. But enough about that, let's look at where Kansas State might end up in the tournament.
Current status: Lock
The fact is to this point K-State has given us absolutely zero reasons to doubt they are going to be making the tournament with ease, so until they do that, they deserve this status. Soak it in. You will see the Powercat on your screen March 17, which might just be the latest Selection Sunday ever.
Joe Lunardi's latest bracketology has the 'Cats as a 5-seed in San Jose, matched up with Butler for a possible second round matchup. The Bulldogs, of course, are one of the teams K-State is most likely to pass if both teams keep winning, so that's good news.
Andy Glockner's Bracket Watch is quite similar, with the same location, seeding, and even 4-seed for the 'Cats. In case you were wondering, Glockner and Lunardi have 4-seed Marquette and 3-seed Ohio State as the other low seeds playing in KC, respectively, along with KU. No, I don't get it either.
The Bracket Project has Kansas State on the 5 seed line this week, alongside Marquette Oregon and Creighton. I'd take the ‘Cats over any of those teams on a neutral court, though out of respect to TB's Nebraska roots I must acknowledge Doug McDermott is capable of anything.
K-State is up to 24th in ESPN's College Basketball RPI, still one spot behind Oklahoma and three behind freaking Belmont. Sure, they're an excellent mid-major at-large candidate with a nice 19-4 record, but their best win is Middle Tennessee at home and they have losses to Northeastern (neutral), VCU (road) and a very pedestrian Central Florida team (road), not to mention an 89-60 loss in Lawrence that proved Belmont doesn't belong with the big boys. So that's my RPI complaint of the week.
The road to Kansas City
OK, so now that Kansas State is in, the obvious next objective is to join KU in Kansas City. This is admittedly a little more difficult to predict, but let's try to go ahead and give it a go.
The way I see it, if Kansas State gets a 4-seed or better, they'll be playing at the Sprint Center, especially after WSU's recent slide knocked them essentially out of contention.* A 5 or 6 seed would give us a good chance, but the committee could easily screw us over in such a scenario.
*For the record, I think it'd be pretty awesome if KSU and WSU met in a second round matchup (maybe as 3 and 6 seeds) in Kansas City. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that I grew up 45 minutes or so southeast of Wichita and my parents subscribed to the Wichita Eagle, but the annual game against the Shockers was always the nonconference game I looked forward to the most growing up. I miss it.
We're pretty close to this right now, so really the ‘Cats just need to stay the course to make this a reality. Beware of looking ahead to next Monday's matchup with the Jayhawks, make sure you don't lose a gimme (or to Baylor at Bramlage) and win one of the two in Waco or Stillwater. Not easy, but very doable and probably enough to earn a top-4 seed and a spot in KC.
Teams to root for this week
Of course, a lot depends on how the other teams across the country are doing as well. That's why, in this new section, I'll give you some games involving teams near K-State's seed line that could help our cause, if those teams lose. No would-be massive upsets included, and teams we want to lose are bolded.
Ohio State @ Michigan, 8 p.m. ESPN
Minnesota at Michigan State, 6 p.m.
Creighton @ Indiana State, 6 p.m.
Boise State @ San Diego State, 10 p.m.
Iowa @ Wisconsin*, 8 p.m.
NC State @ Duke, 8 p.m.
Belmont* @ Murray State, 7 p.m.
Louisville @ Notre Dame, 8 p.m. ESPN
Michigan @ Wisconsin*, 11 a.m. ESPN
Indiana @ Ohio State, noon CBS
Illinois @ Minnesota, 5 p.m.
*No, I don't really think Wisconsin or Belmont are actually contending with K-State for seeds at this point. But I hate Bo Ryan so much, and while I love Rick Byrd, I'm sick and tired of hearing how Belmont (not terribly far away from me) deserves to be in the top 25 or get more respect just because they're beating up on teams in the Ohio Valley Conference.