As part of our ongoing quest to provide you with the best college basketball coverage in the nation, we have enlisted the help of some of the finest team-specific bloggers on the planet to help us. With the NCAA Selection Show coming up on March 15th there are still several teams on the proverbial “bubble”. We figured it might be interesting to see what kind of nonpartisan arguments these bloggers could make for their team deserving a spot in the NCAA tournament. We welcome any discussion of their arguments and praise or criticism of their reasoning in the comment section. If your team is on the “bubble” and you would like to submit something, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kansas State – submitted by TB at Bring On The Cats.
Kansas State Profile
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 3-5
Record vs. RPI Top 100: 5-7
Best Wins: Missouri (home), Texas (road), Texas A&M (road), and Cleveland State (road)
Worst Loss: Oregon
After Tuesday night’s loss to Oklahoma State in Stillwater, K-State’s chances at receiving an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament are smaller than ever. Still, because the proprietors of RTC asked me to make K-State’s case, and because I’m an insufferable homer (OK, not really), I’m going to do my best. Also, ESPN’s Andy Katz still has us in consideration, so it’s still worth looking at what K-State needs to do.
As you can probably tell from the profile above, K-State’s non-conference schedule is bereft of, well, anything. The best teams we played in the non-con schedule were Kentucky, Iowa, and Cleveland State, and we only managed to defeat CSU among those teams as we dropped two-point decisions to both UK and Iowa. You might be wondering why I don’t have Iowa listed in the “Worst Losses” category, considering they’re at 105 in the RPI and 14-15 (4-12 Big 10). At the time, Iowa was at full strength, whereas later in the season several key players would lose time to injuries or suspensions. The Hawkeyes were never going to challenge for the Big 10 title, but they were a decent team at 11-4 before Cyrus Tate’s injury, and had decent wins over Northern Iowa and Iowa State.
Anyway, that one loss doesn’t change things for K-State. Given that we inexplicably lost to woeful Oregon and didn’t have a big win in the non-conference, we needed to separate ourselves in conference play. With wins over Missouri, Texas (on the road), and Texas A&M (on the road), we gave ourselves a chance. But with last night’s loss to Oklahoma State, the best we can hope for is a tie for fourth place in the Big 12 at 9-7, a tie we will win by virtue of our head-to-head win over Texas. The problem is, with Texas, Texas A&M and, to a lesser extent, Oklahoma State having more impressive non-con resumes, we needed to have a clearly superior conference resume to even the playing field. While our conference run still stacks up favorably with all our intra-conference bubble competition, we failed to clearly distinguish ourselves.
One thing that plays in K-State’s favor that wouldn’t have been true in the recent past is the strength of the Big 12 North this season. Coming into this week, the unofficial divisions were 14-14 against each other, but after Kansas’s inexplicable loss to Texas Tech and Colorado’s continued woefulness, the South now owns a 16-15 advantage. But with KU owning wins over Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M; Missouri owning wins over every South opponent it has played, and K-State picking up road wins over Texas and Texas A&M, it’s clear the North is not the South’s little brother this season. If you compare the records of the teams from each division, you will notice that the South did not fare markedly worse against itself as compared to its record against the North, indicating the South didn’t beat each other up and pick off easy wins against the North. The divisions actually appear to be pretty evenly matched.
- Oklahoma: 4-2 North, 8-1 South (Oklahoma State remaining)
- Texas: 2-3 North (@ KU remaining), 7-3 South
- Oklahoma State: 4-2 North, 5-4 South (@ OU remaining)
- Texas A&M: 3-2 North (Missouri remaining), 5-5 South
- Kansas: 9-1 North, 4-1 South (Texas remaining)
- Missouri: 7-3 North, 5-0 South (@ Texas A&M remaining)
- Kansas State: 5-4 North (Colorado remaining), 3-3 South
- Nebraska: 5-5 North, 2-3 South (@ Baylor remaining)
(Note: I omitted the bottom two teams from each side because, really, does anyone care what Baylor, Texas Tech, Iowa State and Colorado did? Yeah, me neither.)
So, our last shot at an at-large bid is to impress in the conference tournament. If K-State does manage the four seed, it will likely play Texas in the 4/5 game on Thursday in Oklahoma City. A win there would be a big resume boost and would affirm the earlier win in Austin, not to mention giving the Wildcats a third shot at KU on Friday. The Jayhawks will be the top seed in the Big 12 and are one of the hottest teams in the country right now, Wednesday night’s debacle in Lubbock notwithstanding. If K-State could somehow come away with the win there, they would have two impressive wins on the last weekend and would be playing in the conference tourney finals on Saturday. Of course at that point, you might as well just win the title game and eliminate all doubt, but it would at least give us a chance. Beyond the two impressive wins, our “Last 12” record would be 9-3 at that point, another selling point to the committee.
Undoubtedly, K-State is still in the “Work Left to Do” category, and at this point it’s probably more like “A Whole Lotta Work Left to Do.” However, using the scenario outlined above, I believe it’s possible for K-State to remain in consideration for one of the last at-large berths. A win over Colorado would push K-State to 20-10 overall, and two games in the conference tournament, likely against Texas and KU, could push the record to 22-10 with impressive wins on the last weekend of the season. Given that other bubble teams aren’t exactly making huge statements right now, either, a late run could impress the committee. While we’re at it, it wouldn’t hurt K-State if Texas A&M and Oklahoma State would lose this weekend – their opponents are Missouri and Oklahoma, respectively – and go quietly into the night at the conference tournament in Oklahoma City.