March 15, 2008

Wildcats waiting for big announcement

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The numbers and the history of the NCAA Tournament selection committee certainly would seem to be on the side of the Kansas State Wildcats, but please forgive anyone associated with Coach Frank Martin's K-State basketball program for feeling a bit uneasy as the final hours prior to the announcement of the selections ticks away.

After the Wildcats fell to Texas A&M 63-60 in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament at the Sprint Center on Friday, the team knew it had missed a chance to be certain of its selection fate when the field of 65 is announced on Sunday at 5 p.m. on CBS.

"We're just waiting. We can't decide our own fate, and that's probably the worst thing that can happen to a person in life when things get out of your control and you have to roll with it," K-State freshman Bill Walker said. "I don't know (if we're in). We might have needed this game."

Martin does not hesitate when asked the same question. After all, his Wildcats finished third in the Big 12, which as of Saturday had moved past the ACC in the RPI ratings as the toughest conference in the nation, and with a 10-6 league record and a 20-11 overall mark, the Wildcats would historically be in the field.

"I thought we were in last week, I thought we were in after we beat Iowa State, I thought we were in last night and I still think we're in after this. I'm not going to break from it," Martin said. "We're the No. 3 seed in the best conference in the country. If they don't think that team belongs in the field, then they can keep their tournament."

Martin is more than willing to fight for his team. It may be needed. Everyone who was with the program last season remembers going to their private gathering to watch the selections and that sinking feeling as it became clear the Cats had been left out despite finishing fourth in the Big 12.

"There's nothing we can do," senior guard Clent Stewart said. "Last year we thought we were in and we weren't. We just have to sit back and wait."

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