MANHATTAN, Kan. | Kansas State earned its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 12 years Sunday. The Wildcats learned they will be a No. 11 seed and face No. 6 Southern California on Thursday in Omaha, Neb.
The game will pit best friends. K-State’s Bill Walker and USC’s O.J. Mayo played together at North College Hill in Cincinnati.
The winner of that game plays the winner of the No. 3-seeded Wisconsin versus No. 14 Cal-State Fullerton game on Saturday.
It’s K-State’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1996. The Wildcats’ NCAA stay that season didn’t last very long. They were a No. 10 seed when they lost to New Mexico 69-48 in the first round of the East regional in Richmond, Va.
In fact, K-State is 0-5 in its most recent stretch of NCAA Tournament games. The Wildcats haven’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 1988 when they defeated Purdue 73-70 in a Midwest regional semifinal in Pontiac, Mich. The Wildcats fell to Kansas 71-58 in the regional final for a spot in the Final Four.
K-State will be making its 23rd NCAA Tournament appearance. The Wildcats’ overall record in it is 27-26.
The Wildcats have gone to four Final Fours — 1948 (fourth), 1951 (lost to Kentucky 68-58 in the finals), 1958 (fourth) and 1964 (fourth).
This current K-State team isn’t exactly heading into the NCAA Tournament on the rise. The Wildcats have lost five of their last seven games, and were eliminated Friday in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament by Texas A&M 63-60 at the Sprint Center.