Welcome to the second day Wildcat fans. It’s been a while.
For just the second time since the 2012 season ended in the Round of 32 against Syracuse, your Kansas State Wildcats have advanced to the second game in the NCAA Tournament. Today’s opponent is an old nemesis of K-State, the Kentucky Wildcats.
For those unaware, the bad blood goes all the way back to 1951, when Kentucky knocked off K-State in the national title game. The Cats and Cats faced off a few more times in the regular season after that, but it was 63 years before the two teams faced off again in the NCAA Tournament, when a wildly under-seeded Kentucky team beat K-State in the 8/9 game in 2014 before making a run to the national title game. Finally, after 9-straight losses all-time to the Blue Wildcats, K-State got the upperhand in 2018, when the Purple Wildcats, who had just become the first team in NCAA history to knock off a 16-seed outside of the first round (sorry again, Retrievers), advanced to the Elite Eight as a massive underdog on the backs of memorable performances from Xavier Sneed and Barry Brown Jr., with the latter hitting the go-ahead bucket with just 19 seconds remaining in a 61-58 win.
So hopefully it’s a good omen that the Wildcats face off again in a bracket where the 16-seed knocked off the 1-seed to make it to the second day of action. Of course, K-State and Kentucky face off a round sooner, and K-State is actually the higher seed this time around. But it’s hard not to see many of the similarities from 2018, and feel good about what the universe is telling us.
But even as the higher seed, K-State can’t out-talent this team like they did two days ago. It’s going to feel much more like a Big 12 game, and the Cats need to make sure they value the ball more than they have lately. But there’s no reason that K-State shouldn’t be able to knock off the Blue Wildcats and keep the train rolling.
Alright Purple Wildcats, time to go 1-0 again; survive and advance. Let’s hope this ride gets sweeter.
Tonight’s opening round matchup is scheduled for a 1:40pm CT tip from Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, NC and will be aired on CBS and via the March Madness App/online with Ian Eagle (play-by-play), Jim Spanarkel (analyst), and Evan Washburn (sideline reporter) on the call. You’ll also be able to hear the game on parts of the K-State Sports Radio Network, plus possibly online at K-StateSports.com (and via the Varsity Network app), with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and Stan Weber (analyst) calling the action over there.
Hey, are you on Discord? We are now, too! Feel free to join us! (Make sure you click the reaction button on the rules notice though, or you won’t see anything.) We’ll have a game thread there as well!