Campus Corner

Kansas State mailbag: Can the Wildcats make the NCAA Tournament?

Iowa State forward Jameel McKay dunked in front of Kansas State’s Nino Williams in Tuesday’s game.
Iowa State forward Jameel McKay dunked in front of Kansas State’s Nino Williams in Tuesday’s game. The Associated Press

I’ve got some good questions for this week’s mailbag, so let’s get right to them. Thanks, as always, for asking them.

This is a VERY popular question right now.

See what I mean.

First off, I do think K-State has a realistic shot of making the NCAA Tournament. Playing in the nation’s strongest conference will boost its RPI (81) and give it ample opportunities to impress the selection committee. For example, 10 of K-State’s final 12 games are against top 30 RPI teams. Even a .500 record in those games would push the Wildcats onto the bubble. Of course, they would also have to beat TCU and Texas Tech on the road, which is no given, and maybe win a game at the Big 12 tournament.

K-State briefly appeared on Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology projection earlier this week following its win against Baylor. But to show you how little room for error exists when trying to erase a 7-7 start that included losses to Texas Southern and Long Beach State, the Wildcats are nowhere to be found on Lunardi’s current projection, not even on the first eight out after losing at Iowa State. Jerry Palm also does not list them on his bracket.

So they have lots of work to do. A losing record against the RPI top 25 (1-3), top 50 (3-5), top 100 (3-7) and top 150 (5-8) is holding them back. More wins against the top teams in the Big 12 could change that.

My guess is it will take seven more victories for K-State (11-8, 4-2 Big 12) to be in the conversation. If K-State finishes the regular season 18-13 with an 11-7 record in league play, it will definitely be in the mix depending on how it plays at the Sprint Center. A 12-6 league record would probably push the Wildcats into the field, regardless of how the conference tournament goes. A 10-8 Big 12 record could be enough, too, depending on who the wins come against.

K-State has six home games remaining, as well as favorable road games against TCU and Texas Tech. It will need to win as many as those as it can. Otherwise it will be fighting for its postseason life in places like Austin and Lawrence and Morgantown.

The Wildcats played their best basketball in 2013 after Bill Snyder gave them a midseason speech, going on to win a share of their first conference championship since 1977. So he clearly knows how to motivate basketball players as well as football players. Give him a star-studded staff of assistants to create game plans and he would probably be doing pretty well. This is an interesting hypothetical, one that should be tested across all K-State sports.

If Eric Cobb ends up at K-State, it would likely be through one of those avenues.

Tyler Lockett (the Senior Bowl highlight sensation) will get picked in the first round, as long as NFL scouts use their eyes and don’t get hung up on his size. Even then, he will be snatched up in the second round. He is too good a route-runner for teams to pass on him. He could help most NFL teams as a rookie.

B.J. Finney will be a mid-round selection, going in the fourth or fifth round. His versatility (being able to play center, guard or tackle) makes him a plug-and-play blocker, the type of offensive lineman that can fit in anywhere.

Jake Waters will go undrafted, but he will sign a free-agent deal with a team minutes after the draft concludes.

I doubt Kansas State will be ranked in any of the preseason polls. Heck, the Wildcats might not even receive votes in them as they try to replace this departing senior class. When the preseason college football magazines start coming out in the summer, I expect to see them ranked close to 50th nationally and sixth in the Big 12. K-State is the opposite of Notre Dame. The national respect won’t be there until they prove something next season.

To reach Kellis Robinett, send email to krobinett@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @KellisRobinett.

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