Going into the 2011-2012 season, no one was expecting much from K-State. I mean, how could you? They lost the most prolific scorer in school history in Jacob Pullen along with their best down low player in Curtis Kelly. They returned veteran Jamar Samuels and sharp shooter Rodney McGruder, but that was about it. It wasn’t enough to get the Wildcats a top 6 preseason Big 12 ranking despite the fact that Kansas State had finished every year under Frank Martin in the top 4 of the Big 12. Will Spradling was going to have to become a 30-35 minute a game player. Jordan Henriquez was going to have to ease into the starting position. Do you see where I’m going with this?
Kansas State was supposed to be an NIT team at best. No one gave the Cats a shot to make the NCAA tourney headed into the year. Someone forgot to tell Frank Martin. Led by Rodney McGruder’s stellar year, as well as Jamar Samuels taking charge and being the senior leader late in the year, Kansas State rattled off a 21-9 (10-8) regular season. That was good for fifth place in the Big 12. The highlight of the regular season were the two wins over top 5 ranked Missouri. It has been a tough season at times, with two losses to Oklahoma and Iowa State, but K-State always seemed to bounce back.
Heading into the Big 12 tournament, the Cats are looking at most likely an 8 or 9 seed in the Big Dance. However, wins over Baylor and Kansas could very well change that. If K-State pulls off a run in Kansas City and makes it to the finals, expect the Cats to earn a 6 seed or possibly 5 come Selection Sunday. It has been awesome to watch Rodney McGruder and Jamar Samuels lead this team. The late season emergence of freshman guard Angel Rodriguez has been a pleasant surprise, and if K-State wants to make a deep run in March, they will need Will Spradling to get back to shooting the way he did earlier in the season. Kansas State’s depth could cause some teams trouble in the Big Dance. They are one of few teams that can go 5 men deep into the bench and not have to worry about it. Martavious Irving, Thomas Gipson and Shane Southwell have all been starters at some point during their K-State careers. Overall, I would consider the regular season a success for the Cats. However, as we all know, there is much more basketball to be played. If Kansas State plays in Kansas City the way they have the past couple weeks, some teams better be aware of this dangerous team in the NCAA Tournament.
I see K-State as a team that, depending on the match up, could get bounced in the 1st round, or make a deep run in the tourney. If Kansas State gets past Baylor and KU this week in Kansas City, some teams are going to fear having to face the Wildcats in the NCAA’s. I think they will be overlooked and people will pick them to be gone after the first weekend, just don’t tell Frank Martin that.