"Ecstatic," said KSU coach Frank Martin. "This is what everybody who coaches and plays Division I basketball plays for. It's an opportunity to play in this tournament and be a part of the top 65 teams in the country."
Martin couldn't have mapped it out any better. Omaha is around a four-hour drive from Manhattan, meaning the Wildcats could have a solid fan base of their own, and possibly, even Kansas fans, also slated for Omaha, may even cheer for their home state.
The game will be a match-up of two ultra-talented freshmen, who were childhood best friends growing up in Huntington, W.V. That's Kansas State's Bill Walker and USC's O.J. Mayo. v"We were in the process of texting when we saw our names go on the screen," Martin said. "We just told each other to "bring it" because one of us is going home."
While Kansas State limps into the tournament with just two wins in their last seven starts, Martin says that doesn't matter.
"Would we liked to have finished the season stronger? Sure," Martin said. "But right now, it doesn't matter. From this point on it's survive and move on. It's not about playing perfect and it's not about motivational speeches. It's about figuring out a way to survive to play again."
* It's a game of freshmen vs. freshmen. K-State is led by the 1-2 scoring punch of Michael Beasley (26.4) and Bill Walker (15.8), while USC is led by O.J. Mayo (20.8) and Davon Jefferson (12.0).
* Twenty years ago, Kansas State and Kansas were in the same Midwest Regional. Each school won its first three games and met in the Elite Eight game in Pontiac, Mich. Where the Jayhawks won. KU, a No. 6 seed, won the NCAA title over Big 8 rival Oklahoma. This year, the Wildcats and Jayhawks are again in the same NCAA Regional.
"Wanting to play Kansas is like going to the dentist," Martin said. "But if we have to do it, that would be the right time to play them … for the right to go to the Final Four."