MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State was rewarded for a successful season on Sunday, as the Wildcats earned their 30th overall bid to the NCAA Tournament, including the fourth in six seasons under head coach Bruce Weber.
K-State (22-11, 10-8 Big 12) was selected as a No. 9 seed in the South Regional and will travel to Charlotte, N.C., to play No. 8 seed Creighton (21-11, 10-8 BIG EAST) in the first round on Friday, March 16 at the Spectrum Center. The winner will advance to play the winner of the second game between the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed Virginia (31-2, 17-1 ACC) and No. 16 seed UMBC (24-10, 12-4 America East) on Sunday, March 18.
The Wildcats will be joined at the venue by No. 2 seed North Carolina, No. 7 seed Texas A&M, No. 10 seed Providence and No. 15 Lipscomb of the West Regional. The top seeds in the South Regional are No. 1 seed Virginia, No. 2 seed Cincinnati, No. 3 seed Tennessee, No. 4 seed Arizona and No. 5 seed Kentucky.
K-State and Creighton will tip off at 5:50 p.m., CT with the matchup between No. 1 seed Virginia and No. 16 seed UMBC to follow 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game. The game will be broadcast nationally on TNT with Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery and Tracy Wolfson.
Public requests for NCAA Tournament tickets are available until 11:59 pm, tonight. Please click here to request tickets exclusively within the K-State allotment. Tickets are priced at $66 (upper level) and $100 (lower level).
Kansas State is making its 37th postseason appearance, which includes 30 in the NCAA Tournament and seven in the Postseason NIT. The Wildcats advance to the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in 12 seasons, including in consecutive seasons for the first time since making five straight appearances from 2010 to 2014. The program has now advanced to the postseason 10 times in the last 12 seasons (eight trips to NCAA Tournament and two to the NIT). The 30 overall bids ties for 20th nationally (along with Georgetown and Illinois), including fourth among Big 12 schools (Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma).
In its last NCAA appearance, No. 11 seed K-State knocked off fellow No. 11 seed Wake Forest, 95-88, in the First Four at the UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio on March 14 before losing to No. 6 seed Cincinnati, 75-61, on March 17 in the South Regional First Round at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif. Seven current players saw action in one or both of those NCAA Tournament games, including starts in both contests by current juniors Barry Brown, Jr., Kamau Stokes and Dean Wade. K-State has a 7-7 NCAA Tournament mark in its last seven appearances.
The program has posted a 34-33 all-time record in NCAA Tournament play, including 10-5 in the first round. The school will be making its second consecutive appearance in the South Regional and the third overall with the other trip coming in 1993 and is 1-2 all-time in the region. K-State will be making its third appearance as a No. 9 seed and the first since the 2014 NCAA Tournament, in which, the Wildcats lost to No. 8 seed Kentucky, 56-49, in the Midwest Regional in St. Louis. The other appearance as a No. 9 seed came in the 1987 NCAA Tournament when the school defeated No. 8 seed Georgia, 82-79, in overtime before losing to top-seed UNLV, 80-61, in Salt Lake City. Overall, the school is 1-2 as a No. 9 seed.
In K-State’s 29 previous NCAA Tournament appearances, the Wildcats have advanced to the Sweet 16 a total of 16 times. The program has also reached the Elite Eight 11 times, made four Final Four appearances and played in one National Championship game (1951).
Head coach Bruce Weber becomes fifth different coach to lead K-State to at least four NCAA Tournament appearances and joins Jack Hartman (1978-82), Lon Kruger (1986-90) and Frank Martin (2007-12) as the only coaches to accomplish it four times in a six-year period. Overall, Weber advances to his 12th NCAA Tournament, which includes six at Illinois and two at Southern Illinois. He is 41st head coach in NCAA history to take three different schools to the tournament, including the 21st active coach. He has a 12-11 record in the NCAA Tournament with three trips to the Sweet 16 and the 2005 Final Four.
The Wildcats earned their fourth 20-win season under Weber and finished in sole possession of fourth place in the nation’s top RPI conference, the Big 12, with a 10-8 mark. The 22 wins are the most since winning 27 in Weber’s first season in 2012-13, while the 10 in Big 12 play were the most since also winning 10 in 2013-14. The team is led by All-Big 12 First Team selection Dean Wade (16.5 ppg., 6.3 rpg.) and All-Big 12 Second Team and Big 12 All-Defensive Team member Barry Brown, Jr. (16.0 ppg., 3.1 rpg.).
Creighton enters Friday’s game with a 21-11 overall record, which includes a tie for third place with Providence and Seton Hall in the BIG EAST Conference standings with a 10-8 mark. The Bluejays are led by senior guard and former K-State player Marcus Foster, who earned First Team All-BIG EAST honors for the second consecutive season in 2017-18. He is averaging a team-best 20.3 points on 49 percent shooting, including 42.2 percent from 3-point range, to go with 3.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 31.6 minutes per game.
Two other Bluejays are averaging in double figures, including junior guard Khyri Thomas (15.3 ppg., 4.3 rpg.) and sophomore forward Martin Krampelj (11.9 ppg., 8.1 rpg.), while four others average between 6.0 and 8.3 points per game. Thomas was named Second Team All-BIG EAST, while freshman guard Mitch Ballock (7.0 rpg., 2.7 rpg.) was named to the league’s All-Freshman Team.
Foster played at K-State from 2013-15, averaging 14.1 points on 40.9 percent shooting, including 37.3 percent from 3-point range, with 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 28.6 minutes per game in 62 career games with 57 starts. He was twice named to All-Big 12 teams, including the Second Team as a freshman in 2013-14.
Thomas was a prep teammate of current Wildcat junior guard Kamau Stokes at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia during the 2014-15 season, while Ballock played at Eudora High School in Eudora, Kansas.
Creighton is led by head coach Greg McDermott, who has a 187-92 (.670) record in eight seasons at the helm which includes five NCAA Tournament appearances. He previously spent time as head coach at Wayne State (1994-2000), North Dakota State (2000-01), Northern Iowa (2001-06) and Iowa State (2006-10). Overall, he is 454-284 (.615) in 24 seasons as head coach. He matched up four times during Weber’s time as head coach at Southern Illinois from 1998 to 2003, while he went 1-7 against the Wildcats as head coach of the Cyclones.
This will be the 16th meeting between K-State and Creighton on the hardwood, but the first since 1987. The Bluejays own a narrow 8-7 edge in the series, including a 1-0 mark in neutral site games.
The winner of Friday’s first round matchup will face either No. 1 seed Virginia (31-2, 17-1 ACC) and No. 16 seed UMBC (24-10, 12-4 America East) on Sunday. The Cavaliers, winners of the ACC regular season and conference tournament, earned the No. 1 seed in the South Region. They are led by three scorers averaging double-figures, including a team-high 14.1 points per game from All-ACC first-team selection sophomore guard Kyle Guy. In addition to Guy, redshirt senior guard and All-ACC second-team selection Devon Hall averaged 12 points per game coupled with 4.3 rebounds per game and a 45.2 3-point percentage during the season.
As the ACC Coach of the year, Tony Bennett‘s crew finished the season shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc, while limiting the opponent to just 53.4 points per contest and 37.5 percent from the field. Virginia’s 17 ACC regular season wins, and nine conference road wins marked a new league record, as the Cavaliers are also just the fourth team in the Associated Press Top 25 era since 1990 to reach the No. 1 spot in the AP weekly poll after being unranked in preseason.
Bennett is an alum of the University of Wisconsin Green Bay (’92), who has a 288-117 overall record in his 11th year as a head coach, including a 219-85 (105-51, ACC) record in his eighth season at the helm of the Cavaliers.
For the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), the Retrievers enter the NCAA Tournament after winning the American East Conference Tournament to earn their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2008. Coached by head coach Ryun Odom, who coached the team to their fourth 20-win season in program history, the Retrievers averaged 73.9 points per game while shooting 44.5 percent from the field in the season and were led by four scorers averaging double-figures. First-Team All-America East Graduate guard Jarius Lyles led UMBC by averaging 20.1 points per game on 43.6 percent from the field, while America East Defensive Player of the Year, K.J. Maura who average 2.0 steals per game.
Odom is an alum of Hampden-Sydney (’96) and is in his second year with UMBC, after posting a 21-13 record in his first season with the team, earning their first winning season since 2007-08 and the 2017 Joe B. Hall Award, presented to the top first-year coach in Division I basketball. Prior to coaching at UMBC, Odom served as head coach at Lenoir-Rhyne (N.C.) during the 2015-16 season, prior to serving as an assistant and interim head coach at Charlotte from 2010-15. He is the son of longtime head coach Dave Odom.
K-State has never faced Virginia and/or UMBC on the hardwood in school history.
K-State was one of nine Big 12 teams to earn berths to the NCAA Tournament and NIT, including seven in the Big Dance, joining No. 1 seed Kansas (Midwest), No. 3 seed Texas Tech (East), No. 5 seed West Virginia (East), No. 6 seed TCU (Midwest) and No. 10 seed Oklahoma (Midwest) and Texas (South) in the field. In addition, Baylor is a No. 1 seed and Oklahoma State a No. 2 seed in the NIT. The Big 12 is the first league since at least 1996-97 to accomplish such a feat.
In addition, all three Division I programs in the state of Kansas (Kansas, Kansas State and Wichita State) all advanced to the NCAA Tournament for fifth time in seven seasons.