K-State 'On The Fence'

Kansas State remains in the conversation when it comes to the NCAA Tournament, but most in the know say the Wildcats are on the outside looking in heading into the final week of the season.

"On The Fence" and "Next Four Out." That's the precarious position Kansas State finds itself in heading into Saturday's 12:30 regular season finale against Colorado in Bramlage Coliseum, and after that, the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City beginning on Wednesday.

At this time, the opinions are these. Jerry Palm of RPI.com has six Big 12 teams in the NCAA Tournament - No. 1 seed Oklahoma, No. 2 Kansas, No. 4 Missouri, No. 6 Texas, No. 8 Texas A&M and No. 11 Oklahoma State.

Kansas State is "On The Fence" behind Palm's "First Four Out" of Penn State, Providence, San Diego State and Rhode Island. ESPN's Jerry Lunardi has five league teams in the Field of 64 - No. 1 OU, No. 2 KU, No. 4 MU, No. 6 Texas and No. 10 Texas A&M.

Kansas State is among four teams on the "Next Four Out" list along with Cincinnati, Maryland, and Texas A&M, behind the "First Four Out" list of Florida, Michigan, Minnesota and San Diego State.

"We know we have to go win Saturday. Hopefully some things will work out where we can still get that fourth seed in the Big 12 Tournament," said KSU senior Darren Kent. (See related story) "Winning on Saturday is on our hands, but everything else is up to everyone else; other teams, which is exactly what you don't want."

A victory over Colorado would put the Wildcats in excellent position to earn the No. 4 seed in the Big 12 Tournament.

Other Saturday games include Kansas hosting Texas, Oklahoma entertaining Oklahoma State, and Missouri going to Texas A&M. Win, or lose, and No. 4 seed or not, KSU coach Frank Martin said, "This has been a special group of kids. They've just refused to lose.

"I'm not going to sit here and tell you we don't want to be in the NCAA Tournament. That's been one of our goals we have talked about since September," Martin said. "With that said, I don't give a rat's you know what about what people say our resume looks like. I'm enjoying every minute coaching these guys."

Kansas State has notched 20 wins for the third straight year, which is a first for the Wildcats since 1980, 1981 and 1982.

"That says a lot about coach Martin," KSU guard Jacob Pullen said. "People give him a lot of trash that he's not a good coach, but he did it with Mike (Beasley) and Bill (Walker), and now he's doing it against with no all-Americans. He has just hard-nosed players that he wanted."

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