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Kansas State confident heading into tournament selections

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, March 15, 2014, at 10:21 a.m.

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— Kansas State will hear its name during the NCAA Tournament selection show on Sunday. And that’s good enough for the Wildcats.

Even though they don’t know what to expect in terms of a seed — likely something in the 8-10 range — or location — eight sites from Buffalo to San Diego are possibilities — they are content with whatever comes next.

“I don’t really care what seed we get,” K-State senior guard Will Spradling said. “We have played the toughest teams in the nation and we have beaten those toughest teams. I’m not really concerned with who we play or where we are. I’m just excited to play.”

K-State’s confidence level heading into the NCAA Tournament is higher than you might expect. Though the Wildcats have lost three straight, and no one wants to carry a losing streak into the Big Dance, they are proud of a 20-12 record and a fifth-place Big 12 finish. They have defeated six ranked teams and they have played 14 games against teams figuring to receive an at-large bid.

In other words, they are battle tested.

Ending the regular season with losses to Oklahoma State and Baylor, then falling to Iowa State in the Big 12 Tournament doesn’t change that.

A 91-85 loss to the Cyclones actually left the Wildcats in good spirits. It was arguably their best offensive performance. If they can duplicate that next week and regain their old defensive form, they like their chances.

“I hope to play a couple games,” freshman guard Marcus Foster said Thursday. “We always talk about going to the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight and how good it will be for us. We just showed today playing Iowa State that we can make it there, because Iowa State is going to be there in the Sweet 16 or the Elite Eight. We proved we can play with them.

“We are fortunate we get the chance to play in the NCAA Tournament. We are looking forward to it. I am just happy we get to play another game. I will take our seed as it comes.”

Most online bracket projections had K-State as a No. 8 seed before the Big 12 Tournament. Some dropped the Wildcats to a No. 9 after they lost to Iowa State.

K-State coach Bruce Weber said he wasn’t paying attention. He is looking forward to whatever comes next — whatever it is.

“The conference is tough, and it’s not very forgiving, and I hope it prepares us for the NCAA Tournament,” Weber said. “Obviously it still comes down to matchups and playing good basketball down the stretch. But we’ve made a lot of progress. And we’ve had four freshmen play quite a few minutes, and I don’t know if anybody else in the league can say that. So you feel good. I feel good about next week. I feel good about the future of the program.”

Reach Kellis Robinett at krobinett@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @kellisrobinett.

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