For the 18th time in school history, your Kansas State Wildcats have advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 16.
It really wasn’t all that long ago that the Cats were in a very similar position. In 2018, the Cats advanced as a 9-seed beating 8-seed Creighton, followed by 16-seed UMBC to make it to the second weekend, for just the second time since 1988. They faced off against 5-seed Kentucky in the Sweet 16, and pulled off an amazing upset to make it to the Elite Eight. Interesting note, of the 17 prior appearances, only five times have the Cats failed to advance out of the Sweet 16, with the last such occurrence in 1982 — when current head coach Jerome Tang was 16 — when the 5-seed Cats lost to 8-seed Boston College in Jack Hartman’s final appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
It’s going to be tough to continue that legacy today, with 7-seed Michigan State standing in the way. The Spartans are led by Hall of Fame head coach Tom Izzo in his 28th season, and have advanced to the final weekend of the NCAA Tournament as recently as 2019, and are well familiar with college basketball’s biggest stages. The Spartans haven’t been great this year, finishing the regular season at 19-11, and just 11-8 in the Big 10, but that was still good enough to secure the 4-seed in the Big 10 Championships where they were bounced in the first game by 13-seed Ohio State.
Despite the Spartans having an experience advantage, this is a matchup that should be favorable to K-State. The Spartans like to play slow and are not very adept at forcing turnovers, and those are two things the TangCats have shown they can take advantage of if they are playing their game the way they want.
The real question for today is will the big stage affect a K-State team that is sorely lacking in Tournament experience. It didn’t seem to bother them as much against Montana State and Kentucky, but there’s definitely a lot more distractions for this squad in New York City, where nearly a quarter of the roster calls home, than there were in Greensboro, NC. But Jerome Tang and this staff have shown capable of getting this team ready and focused when needed, and I don’t think anymore, team or fans, is ready for this season to be over just yet.
Alright Wildcats, time to go 1-0 again; survive and advance. Can this ride get any more elite?
This evening’s Sweet 16 matchup is scheduled for a 5:30pm CT tip from Madison Square Garden in New York City, and will be aired on TBS and via the March Madness App/online with Brian Anderson (play-by-play), Jim Jackson (analyst), and Allie LaForce (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!