Bruce Weber had two wishes, and he got them both Sunday with the announcement of the NCAA Tournament pairings.
As a No. 4 seed in the West Regional, K-State’s first game will be Friday at Kansas City’s Sprint Center where the ‘Cats will play the winner of an early-week play-in game between LaSalle and Boise State that will take place either Tuesday or Wednesday.
While taking no team lightly, celebrating at a Selection Show Watch Party at the Colbert Hills Golf Course, Weber said, “We wanted to be in Kansas City, and another thing on my wish list was to play on Friday, which will give us another day to rest after playing three tough games in a row.”
Weber added, “By being in Kansas City, I hope we have some extra people there.”
LaSalle went 21-9 and tied for third in the Atlantic 10, while Boise State was 21-10 and tied for fourth in the Mountain West Conference.
With a first-game win, K-State would play the winner of the No. 5 Wisconsin vs. No. 12 Mississippi game on Sunday.
The Badgers are 23-10 and tied for fourth in the Big Ten; the Rebels went 25-8 and placed second in the Southeastern Conference. In the national rankings last week, Wisconsin was No. 22, but Mississippi was not ranked.
Sunday, Wisconsin lost a nine-point second half lead, and the game to No. 10 Ohio State, 50-43, for the Big Ten postseason championship. Mississippi came from 12 points down at the half to upset No. 13 Florida, 66-63, for the SEC championship.
“I know Bo real well and we’ve played his teams many, many times,” said Weber in reference to former Big Ten rival coach Bo Ryan of the Badgers. “I know they struggled at the end of the season, but then made the big push in the tournament to reach the championship game.
“If we are fortunate enough to win, and should Wisconsin win, at least we’re playing a team that we know something about, but you still have to go beat them,” said Weber. “They play very disciplined basketball and you have to guard them and deal with their style of play.
“You can’t compare scores or leagues,” he said. “It’s all about who’s playing well at the right team and has that inner-desire to do things well at the end of the year.”
The team that wins twice in Kansas City will advance to the Staples Center in Los Angeles where potentially Gonzaga will be the No. 1 seed, Ohio State the No. 2 seed and New Mexico as the No. 3 seed.
Following playing Texas, Oklahoma State and Kansas on successive days in Kansas City, K-State took Sunday off and today will have weights and shooting, before “getting after it” on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Overall Weber said of K-State’s 27-7 year and co-Big 12 championship season, “We talk about winning championships and being a champion. We talked about beating the best, and that’s Kansas. We won the championship, but we didn’t beat the best. It’s been a very rewarding year.”
ALL-TIME K-STATE HIGHEST SEEDS:
No. 2 – 2010;
No. 3 – None;
No. 4 – 1988, 2013;
No. 5 – 2011, 1982;
No. 6 – 1993, 1989;
No. 7 – 1980;
No. 8 – 2012, 1981
As a head coach, Weber will be taking his eighth team into NCAA play.
In 2005, his Illini team advanced to the championship game, while the Illini made it to the Sweet 16 in 2004. Weber also was a Sweet 16 participant in 2002 when at Southern Illinois.
His last appearance was in 2011 when he took a 20-14 Illinois team into the third round.