With the Wildcats set to tip-off tonight against Northern Colorado, Bruce Weber’s second squad at Kansas State is projected to receive a nine seed in the NCAA tournament according the ESPN’s preseason predictions. And while these rankings mean a whole lotta nothing come March, it’s still interesting to examine what the national media is thinking – preseason rankings follow a team around the rest of the season. For instance, if Baylor had started the football season ranked #1, do you think there’s any way the Bears would drop from #1 the way they’ve been winning? Voters follow a herd mentality and don’t like to change unless everyone thinks they should. So let’s look at what the selection committee of Joe Lunardi is thinking.
According to ESPN’s preseason rankings, K-State’s is 227 in out of conference schedule. This isn’t surprising – aside from a meeting with Gonzaga and decent early season tournament at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, there’s not a lot to get excited about here. As such, we won’t find out much about this Wildcat team. However, it should give a largely revamped starting rotation an opportunity to develop chemistry and confidence before the grind of league play.
If the bracket plays out as anticipated, K-State fans will be left wishing for a different spot. Notre Dame is predicted to occupy the #8 seed in the Midwestern Regional, with the winner facing #1 overall seed Kentucky. Fortunately, there’s a lot of basketball to play between now and then. If the Wildcats can avoid any bad losses in nonconference action and come together to finish third in the Big 12 behind KU and Oklahoma State (or really surprise some people by challenging for another regular season championship), they’d likely be looking at a three or four seed.
Interestingly, despite its extremely strong incoming class, KU is only projected to be a two seed with ones going to Michigan State, Louisville, and Duke (along with Kentucky). Of course, KU seems to be projected to drop off every year after it loses a slate of high-profile player, only to infuriate the rest of the Big 12 by displaying a new slate of instantly high-profile players. Oklahoma State, returning Marcus Smart, is also projected to be a two seed. Other Big 12 squad’s in the bracket are Baylor (seven seed) and Iowa State (11). It will be the responsibility of Texas to have a solid start to the season and try to get the Big 12 another representative in the tournament. I have zero confidence in Texas Tech, TCU, or West Virginia in 2013.