Must win games Kansas State needs to stay in tournament contention

Conference Tournaments are almost here and teams only have a handful of games left to make their case for the NCAA Tournament.
Feb 26, 2024; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats guard Cam Carter (5) dribbles the ball down the court after a steal against West Virginia.
Feb 26, 2024; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats guard Cam Carter (5) dribbles the ball down the court after a steal against West Virginia. / Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas State has looked like a team that could absolutely make it to the NCAA Tournament at times this season, but they have also looked like a team that has no shot to make the tournament. The Wildcats started conference play 4-1 and were thriving. Then he hit a four-game losing streak that no one thought would be ended by a win over at the time No. 4 Kansas.

The Wildcats then fell into another slump losing three games in a row before this last weekend. Now K-State has won two in a row against No. 25 BYU and West Virginia and is closer to the magic number. With three games left, the Wildcats have a chance to reach the magic number of nine wins in conference play. The magic number is nine because that would give them an even 9-9 record which would probably get them a 10 or 11 seed in March Madness.

Jerome Tang believes his squad can get hot in these last few games to make a true run for and at the NCAA Tournament. So we know what Tang believes and the Kansas State faithful are going to follow him, but let's look at things logically here. Here are the two scenarios for Kansas State right now.

Kansas State gets nine regular season conference wins

If Kansas State can pull off getting nine conference wins, the Wildcats have a real chance of making the NCAA Tournament and a lot of that is because of the difficulty of their conference. The Big 12 is one of the toughest is not the toughest conference in college basketball. Teams have consistently beat up on each other, but they have been the conference with the most ranked teams for the majority of the season.

The Wildcats have three games remaining, at Cincinnati, at No. 7 Kansas, and home vs. No. 8 Iowa State. These are not going to be easy games. The Wildcats have not won at Allen Fieldhouse in almost 20 years. The last time the Wildcats pulled off that win was in 2006, so while it is not impossible to beat the Jayhawks at home, it's very difficult to.

Going to Cincinnati will also be a challenge for the Wildcats with the environment they will have to play in. Just like how Kansas State gets a big boost from their crowd, the Bearcats do as well. The K-State will end their season against No. 8 Iowa State, which taking on any ranked opponent is difficult.

The two must-win games for the Wildcats in this three-game stretch will be Cincinnati and Iowa State. If they can win those games they can reach the nine-win mark in conference play and have a real chance to make the tournament.

Kansas State falls short of nine regular season conference wins

If the Wildcats fall short of nine conference wins this season, then things become a little more complicated. They could theoretically have a chance to make it to the tournament but it would be very difficult.

If Kansas State can make a deep run in the Big 12 tournament, say to the Semifinals, I think they could have done enough to make it into the tournament because they would have had to beat at least two higher seeds to get there. If they make it to the championship that would give them an even better chance.

All hope is not lost for Kansas State, but the easier road certainly is the one above where they just get nine wins and strengthen their bid in the Big 12 Tournament.

So to recap, Kansas State needs to win at least two of their last three games to have a chance at making March Madness. The most likely wins they could get would be Cincinnati and Iowa State. If they can pull off a win against Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse, that could also be the big win to catapult them into the NCAA Tournament.

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