Oklahoma City, to Salt Lake City, to Indianapolis, Ind.
That's Kansas State's NCAA Tournament "Road to the Final Four" as the Wildcats have earned the No. 2 seed in the West Regional.
Going into the 5 p.m. "Selection Sunday" show on CBS, Kansas State coach Frank Martin said, "I took a nap this afternoon. That's how relaxed I was."
The path will start with a first-round game against 24-8 North Texas on Thursday at the Oklahoma City Ford Center. With a victory, a second-round game on Saturday would put the ‘Cats against the winner of the BYU vs. Florida game.
"I'm ecstatic for our kids," said third-year K-State coach Frank Martin. "I'm glad they've been rewarded for their efforts and will be playing as close to home as possible."
Of the early round possibilities, Martin simply said, "They're all good. There's not an easy game in this tournament. You start getting picky on who you play, then you're forgetting where we were a year ago. We're just ecstatic to be in the tournament again."
From as low as K-State was on Sunday after losing to the University of Kansas in the Big 12 Championship title game, Sunday was, as Jamar Samuels said, "A new day. It's Selection Sunday and we're a No. 2 seed."
Jacob Pullen added, "Today we feel better because we have a new opportunity. I think it's set up to where we can make a deep run." Of the setting at the new Colbert Hills Clubhouse Sunday afternoon for a "watch party," senior Chris Merriewether reflected, "It's a far cry from my freshman year when we had one of these parties and we didn't make it.
Along with that day, and yesterday (the loss to KU), those were two of the lowest moments of my career, but sitting here expecting to be either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed was a wonderful feeling."
As one of the elder statesmen of the Wildcat roster, Merriewether continued, "I was sitting next to Luis (Colon), who was sitting next to Denis (Clemente), and as seniors, we've told the freshmen and sophomores that it's all different when you don't have a next year. You have only so many opportunities like this. It's very exciting."
It was four years ago that Bob Huggins' K-State team went 23-12, but had to settle for the NIT. The Wildcats did advance in 2008 when Martin's first year went 21-12, but then it was back to the NIT last year after a 22-12 record.
"This is what we started four years ago, and we've been building every year to be better," said Martin, the 2010 Big 12 Coach of the Year. "We didn't get in the tournament last year, but I thought the program took another huge step toward the commitment to work-ethic and growth in our system. Where the next step goes I don't know, but we're working toward that next step."
The first-game winner will advance to play either No. 7 seed BYU (29-5, 13-3 Mountain West) or No. 10 seed Florida (21-12, 9-7 SEC) on Saturday, March 20. The other top three seeds in the West Regional to be played in Salt Lake City are No. 1 Syracuse, No. 3 Pittsburgh and No. 4 Vanderbilt.
The winners of the four Regionals will then converge on Indianapolis, Ind., for the Final Four on April 3 and 5 at the Lucas Oil Stadium.
KSU vs. KU:
It's possible that Kansas State and Kansas could meet again for a forth time. If it happens it would be in the semi-final game of the Final Four.
THROUGH THE YEARS:
In Kansas State's 23 previous NCAA Tournament appearances, the Wildcats have advanced to the Sweet 16 a total of 16 times. The program has also reached the Elite Eight 11 times, made four Final Four appearances and played in one National Championship game (1951).
Fans wishing to purchase all-session tickets in Oklahoma City should go to the Ford Center's website at www.okfordcenter.com or through Ticketmaster's site at www.ticketmaster.com.
ALSO IN OKC:
K-State will be joined in OKC by No. 1 seed Kansas, No. 8 seed UNLV, No. 9 seed Northern Iowa and No. 16 seed Lehigh of the Midwest Regional.
RECORD YEAR FOR BIG 12:
The Wildcats were one of a Big 12-record seven teams to earn berths in tournament, joining No. 1 seed Kansas (Midwest), No. 3 Baylor (South), No. 5 Texas A&M (South), No. 7 Oklahoma State (Midwest), No. 8 Texas (East) and No. 10 Missouri (East) in the field. Since 2000, there have been 34 occasions when a league has sent six or more teams to the NCAA