Kansas State has been playing basketball since 1902, so it is rare for the Wildcats to encounter anything that has never before happened. But they will venture into new territory during the next 16 days.
For the first time in program history, K-State will play five straight games against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25.
In other words, it is preparing to play what could be the most difficult five-game stretch in its history.
First up is a home game with No. 22 Baylor, then comes a trip to No. 11 Iowa State, followed by home games against No. 24 Oklahoma State and No. 16 West Virginia. The daunting stretch ends with a trip to Allen Fieldhouse against No. 9 Kansas.
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It’s worth pointing out that those rankings could change between now and the end of the month. The Cowboys, for example, will likely fall out of the top 25 if they lose at Oklahoma later this week. So K-State could end up playing two ranked teams, Oklahoma State, and two more ranked teams. Still, it’s no easy road.
For now, K-State coach Bruce Weber is focusing on the next game instead of the next five.
“Now we have Baylor, and they beat us twice last year,” Weber said. “The first game was a crazy game at their place. I thought we out played them for 38 or 39 minutes. The game here, they punked us. They were playing so well at the end of the year, but we had a nice lead here. They took it to us, and we did not guard them. We have got to guard them Saturday. They (beat Iowa State), so we know we are going to have a challenge.”
Consecutive games against ranked opponents is inevitable in the Big 12 this season. Seven of its 10 teams are currently ranked and an eighth is receiving votes. Still, this is an extreme run of difficult games. K-State also faced Oklahoma last week when the Sooners were ranked 16th, giving it six of seven games against ranked foes.
As of now, 12 of K-State’s final 14 games are against ranked teams.
Its previous streak of games against ranked opponents isn’t even close.
K-State has never played four straight games against ranked teams, and has only faced three in a row on a few occasions, though it happened twice in 2012 when the Wildcats opened conference play against three consecutive top 15 teams and then faced three straight top 10 teams in February.
Those stretches were tough, too, but the Wildcats will be tested like never before as they close out January.