No. 10 Baylor braces for Kansas State in Big 12 (Mar 09, 2017)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Tenth-ranked Baylor looks to solidify its seeding in the NCAA Tournament when it meets Kansas State in the second round of the Big 12 tournament Thursday night.
The Wildcats, who split with the Bears this season, seek one more signature win to improve its chances of receiving an NCAA bid.
Both teams exceeded preseason expectations. The third-seeded Bears were picked to finish fifth in the Big 12, and the No. 6 seed Wildcats were picked to finish ninth. Yet, both teams enter the conference tournament wondering what might have been.
The Bears (25-6) reached the top spot in the polls for the first time in program history in mid-January with a 15-0 record, but promptly lost their next game. They ended up finishing the season with five losses in their final 10 games. They still finished in a three-way tie for second place in the Big 12.
"The strength of our team is chemistry, leadership and depth," coach Scott Drew said. "As a coach, you just never know who's going to be impactful or have that night," head coach Scott Drew said.
With a strong showing in the Big 12 tournament, the Bears could be a No. 2 or 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
For Kansas State (19-12), the naysayers are a daily visitor to campus. The Wildcats, picked ninth in the preseason poll, surprised everyone with an 11-1 start in the non-conference season. With two wins in their first three league games, including a controversial loss at Kansas, the Wildcats were ranked 25th.
They lost the next two and lost 10 of their final 16 games. Included in that was a 1-6 stretch with the victory at Baylor.
Kansa State won its last two games, on the road at Texas and a convincing win at home over Texas Tech that secured the bye in the first round of the Big 12. Those two victories certainly lifted their spirits.
"We just move forward and worry about what we can worry about, and that is Kansas City," Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said.
Heading into Thursday, the Wildcats sit on both sides of the bubble, depending on the projection. A second win against Baylor will not only give Kansas State 20 wins, it will most likely place them into the field.
But a loss, especially a blowout, leaves the Wildcats squirming for three days until selection Sunday.