K-State Earns NCAA Tournament Bid, to Play Montana State Friday

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State was rewarded for a successful season on Sunday night, as the Wildcats earned their 32nd overall bid to the NCAA Tournament, including the first under head coach Jerome Tang.

No. 12/12 K-State (23-9, 11-7 Big 12) was selected as the No. 3 seed in the East Regional and will travel to Greensboro, N.C., to play No. 14 seed Montana State (25-9, 15-3 Big Sky) in the first round on Friday, March 17 at the Greensboro Coliseum. The winner will advance to play the winner of the No. 6 seed Kentucky (21-11, 12-6 SEC) and No. 11 seed Providence (21-11, 13-7 BIG EAST) on Sunday, March 19.

K-State and Montana State will tip off at 8:40 p.m., CT (9:40 p.m., ET) on CBS with Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel and Evan Washburn on the call. It will be proceeded by the Kentucky-Providence game, which is set for 6:10 p.m., CT (7:10 p.m., CT), also on CBS.

A limited number of first and second round tickets remain in the K-State allotment and are now available to request until 11:59 p.m., CT tonight. All requests will be assigned in order of Ahearn Fund priority points. Fans with orders that cannot be filled will be notified by 10 a.m., CT tomorrow. Ticket requests are for both the first and second rounds and only the sessions in which K-State plays. Tickets are priced at $100 for lower-level tickets and $80 for upper-level locations for each session. Fans can request tickets by clicking here.

“Wow, this is terrific. I mean, in light of like what’s happening in other places right now,” said Tang. “I just told our administration and our staff that we can’t get tired of or take this for granted! Because it’s hard to do. It’s really, really hard to do. And so, it’s a blessing. We’re very thankful to God for this opportunity. I know that it was because of him that I’m sitting here. We have a team that we have and without the type of season that bad, we got crazy faith on our shirts because it took crazy what people some people called crazy and other people called faith, we call crazy faith, and just very, very thankful.”

K-State was the No. 11 overall seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament, including third among the four No. 3 seeds (trailing Baylor and Gonzaga). The No. 3 seed is the second highest by a Wildcat team since seeding began in 1979 and the highest since the 2010 team was selected as a No. 2 seed.

The Wildcats will be joined at the venue by No. 3 seed Xavier (25-9), No. 6 seed Iowa State (19-13), No. 14 Kennesaw State (26-8) and the winner of the First Four matchup between No. 11 seeds Mississippi State (21-12) and Pittsburgh (22-11) of the Midwest Regional. The top seed in the East Regional are No. 1 seed Purdue (29-5), No. 2 seed Marquette (28-6), No. 3 seed K-State, No. 4 seed Tennessee (23-10), No. 5 seed Duke (26-8), No. 6 seed Kentucky (21-11) and No. 7 seed Michigan State (19-12).

K-State is making its 39th postseason appearance, which includes 32 in the NCAA Tournament and seven in the Postseason NIT. The Wildcats advance to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time in the last 16 seasons, including the first time since 2019. The program has now advanced to the postseason 12 times in the last 17 seasons (10 trips to NCAA Tournament and two to the NIT). The 32 overall bids rank 22nd nationally, including fourth among Big 12 schools (Kansas [51], Texas [37] and Oklahoma [33]).

The program has posted a 37-35 all-time record in NCAA Tournament play, including 11-6 in the first round. The school will be making its fifth appearance (1975, 1989, 1996, 2012) in the East Regional and is 3-4 all-time in the region. This will be second visit to Greensboro, N.C., for the NCAA Tournament after dropping an 86-75 decision to Minnesota in the First Round of the 1989 NCAA Tournament.

In its last NCAA appearance, the No. 4 seed K-State lost to No. 13 seed UC Irvine, 70-64, in the first round of the NCAA South Regional at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif.

In K-State’s 31 previous NCAA Tournament appearances, the Wildcats have advanced to the Sweet 16 a total of 17 times.  The program has also reached the Elite Eight 12 times, made four Final Four appearances and played in one National Championship game (1951).

Head coach Jerome Tang becomes the 10th different coach to lead K-State to the NCAA Tournament dating back to 1948. Tang was part of 10 NCAA Tournament appearances during his stint as an assistant and associate head coach at Baylor, which included 5 trips to the Sweet 16 (2010, 2012, 2014, 2017, 2021), 3 in the Elite Eight (2010, 2012, 2021) and a Final Four and national championship in 2021.

Five current players – Jerrell ColbertAbayomi IyiolaKeyontae JohnsonDavid N’Guessan and Desi Sills – have been a part of teams that have advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Johnson (Florida), N’Guessan (Virginia Tech) and Sills (Arkansas) have all played in NCAA Tournament games, including Johnson and Sills in 2019, N’Guessan and Sills in 2021 and N’Guessan in 2022. Sills was part of an Arkansas team that advanced to the Elite Eight in 2019.

Picked 10th in the preseason Big 12 poll, K-State posted a 23-9 overall record, which included a tie for third place in the nation’s toughest conference – the Big 12 – with an 11-7 mark. Led by Tang, the Big 12 Coach of the Year and a finalist for several National Coach of the Year honors, the Wildcats have posted their highest win total since 2019. All-American candidates Keyontae Johnson (17.7 ppg.) and Markquis Nowell (16.8 ppg.) are one of the top scoring duos in the country at 34.5 points per game, while four others average better than 6 points per game, including junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin (10.2 ppg.) and reserve-turned-starter Desi Sills (8.7 ppg.).

The 2-time defending Big Sky Tournament Champion, Montana State enters Friday’s game with a 25-9 overall record, which includes 8 consecutive victories dating back to Feb. 11. The Bobcats average 74.2 points on 46.9 percent shooting, including 33.8 percent from 3-point range, and connect on 75.9 percent from the free throw line. They are led by three double-digit scorers including All-Big Sky First Team selection RaeQuan Battle (17.4 ppg.), second team pick Jubrile Belo (13.0 ppg.) and Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year Great Osobor (10.0 ppg.).

Montana State is led by head coach Danny Sprinkle, who has an 81-42 (.659) record in 4 seasons at his alma mater and is making his second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. A Helena, Mont., native, and 2000 graduate of Montana State, he is the Bobcats’ eighth all-time leading scorer, while he was the Big Sky Freshman of the Year in 1996 and a 3-time All-Big Sky selection, including First Team in 1997.

This will the fourth meeting between K-State and Montana State on the hardwood and the first in nearly half a century after the Wildcats posted a 96-73 win at Ahearn Field House on Nov. 30, 1974. The Bobcats won the first meeting, 45-38, at home on Dec. 23, 1941, with the Wildcats winning 51-40 at home on Dec. 28, 1946.

The winner will advance to play the winner of the No. 6 seed Kentucky (21-11, 12-6 SEC) and No. 11 seed Providence (21-11, 13-7 BIG EAST) on Sunday, March 19. The Wildcats, who placed third in the SEC, are led by All-American Oscar Tshiebwe (16.5 ppg., 13.1 rpg.) as well as three others in double figures. The Friars, who finished fifth in the BIG EAST, have five players averaging in double figures led by Bryce Hopkins (16.1 ppg., 8.5 rpg.).

K-State is 1-9 all-time against Kentucky, including 1-2 in the NCAA Tournament (1951, 2014, 2018), and 1-0 all-time against Providence, knocking off the Friars, 87-80 in 1977 NCAA Tournament.

K-State was one of eight Big 12 teams to earn berths to the NCAA Tournament and NIT, including seven in the Big Dance, joining No. 1 Kansas (West), No. 2 Texas (Midwest), No. 3 Baylor (South), No. 6 Iowa State (Midwest), No. 6 TCU (West) and No. 9 West Virginia (South). In addition, Oklahoma State is a No. 1 seed in the NIT.  Seven Big 12 teams will play in the NCAA Tournament for the seventh season since 2010, including six of the last nine tournaments conducted. The Big 12 has had six or more NCAA Championship teams in 19 of 26 years, including 10 seasons since 2012.

Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttp://www.sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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