As March approaches, the basketball gods are beginning to smile upon the Sunflower State.
All three of the state’s Division I teams are seemingly headed to the NCAA Tournament, and each has or almost has reached a notable achievement this season. That’s a much brighter picture than just a month ago, when each had a major stumble. (THREE Allen Fieldhouse losses for Kansas?)
There’s no achievement more notable in college basketball this season than Kansas winning a 14th straight Big 12 Conference regular-season championship. The Jayhawks broke a tie with UCLA (13 straight Pac-8/Pac-10 titles from 1966-79) and own an NCAA record that shows no signs of stopping.
Even better, KU (23-6) is looking more and more like a No. 1 seed next month in the NCAA Tournament and will undoubtedly be in Wichita for its first two games.
Not to be outdone is Wichita State (23-5), which is two wins away from an American Athletic Conference championship in its first year of membership. WSU plays at Central Florida on Thursday before a return match Sunday with conference leader Cincinnati.
Winner of six straight, WSU has crept higher in tournament bracket projections, as high as No. 3 in many. Another win over Cincinnati, plus a good showing in the AAC Tournament, might get the Shockers into a No. 2 seed.
The late-season surge has helped chances of WSU playing its first-weekend games in Dallas, the shortest trip for fans since the Shockers can’t play at Intrust Bank Arena.
Kansas State (20-9) needs to win one of its final two regular-season games to finish with a winning conference record for the first time in four years. The Wildcats are trying to end in the Big 12’s top four, which would seal an NCAA Tournament bid.
Fans of all three teams have optimism. That, along with six NCAA Tournament games inside Intrust Bank Arena on March 15 and 17, make basketball’s best month even more enticing this year.