Conference: Big 12
Record: 20-13 (8-10)
NCAA Tournament Seed: 11 (South; First Four)
How they got to the Big Dance
Kansas State started of its season strong, going 13-2 and losing only to Maryland and Kansas in non-conference play. As the season went on, the schedule got tougher and the Wildcats’ flaws became evident. Once conference play started, K-State went 8-10. The Wildcats ended the regular season on high note with wins against Texas Tech and TCU.
They continued their win streak into the Big 12 tournament, but ultimately lost to West Virginia in heartbreaking fashion after giving up a 12-point lead in the second half.
Why they’re a legitimate contender
Big wins against Baylor and West Virginia prove that the Wildcats are capable of playing with some of the best teams in the country. Sophomores Barry Brown, Dean Wade and Kamau Stokes have been crucial offensive contributors this season, averaging at least 9.0 points per game each.
Senior D.J. Johnson also contributed on the defensive side with 5.8 rebounds per game, which was second-highest on the team. This team has been able to work well with one another all season, and if they continue to do so, they could advance in the tournament.
Why they’re not a legitimate contender
Before the Big 12 tournament, K-State was 4-8 and slipping offensively, losing games against key opponents Kansas and West Virginia.
In the Big 12 Tournament semifinal, Kansas State lost to West Virginia after being up by 12 points in the second half. Overall, the Wildcats had trouble with teams in their conference all season, but had two big wins against Baylor on Feb. 4 and last Thursday in the Big 12 tournament.
Player to watch: F Wesley Iwundu
Iwundu’s 6-foot-7 stature and long arms proved to be an advantage on the defensive end. He averaged 6.4 rebounds per game, good for most on the team. Offensively, he averaged 12.5 points per game and improved his 3-point percentage over the course of his career to shoot 35.9 percent from 3-point range this season.
On a team with few overall standouts, Iwundu is the player to watch to lead the Wildcats to a deep run into the tournament.