Kansas State and Kansas are no strangers to the “BIG DANCE.”
When action tips off Friday, the Wildcats will make their 31st NCAA appearance, compiling an overall 37-34 record with four Final Four appearances, the last in 1964.
Fans will remember last year’s run ended at the Elite Eight, as they were derailed by the Cinderella team, Loyola of Chicago.
The late 1990s and early 2000s were hard on Kansas State fans.
The Wildcats had a 12-year absence from the NCAA Tournament. The Tex Winter, Cotton Fitzsimmons and Jack Hartman eras were a distant memory until more recent success stories.
The Kansas Jayhawks have a storied NCAA Tournament resume’.
This year marks their 47th appearance while compiling a 103-45 record with three National Championships, (1952, 1988, 2008) banners hanging in Phog Allen Fieldhouse.
The most remarkable aspect about Kansas basketball is this is the 30th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance for the Jayhawks, the nation’s longest streak.
North Carolina once put together a 27-year streak, (1975-2001). Kansas did not participate in 1989, being on probation during the Larry Brown era or this streak would be even longer, even more remarkable.
Both Kansas State and Kansas earned No. 4 seeds.
KU was the 13th overall seed, thus being the top of the No. 4 seeds and could stay close to home and play in the Midwest bracket at Kansas City, Mo.
That could possibly set up an interesting scenario as North Carolina and Kansas could meet in the Sprint Center in Kansas City, giving KU a favorable crowd in the Midwest Regional championship game.
I told you all of this to tell you this — Kansas and Kansas State are not getting a lot of respect from the smarties that dissect the brackets.
“Bracketology,” they like to call it.
In fact, the Big 12 was pretty much dismissed with the exception of Texas Tech, who the experts agreed could win a couple of games.
Many are picking UC Irvine, a No. 13-seed to knock off Big 12 co-champion Kansas State in the first round.
The Anteaters are pretty much the same team that the Wildcats blasted last year in Manhattan in a non-conference matchup.
With or without Dean Wade, the Wildcats are a formidable tournament team on their defense alone. If they get some outside shooting, they can beat anybody in front of them this weekend.
The buzz was pretty much the same for Kansas.
“Watch out for Northeastern,” the smarties say.
“Kansas is stumbling to the finish line.”
I don’t know what stats they are looking at, but the Jayhawks finished the season winning 8 of 11.
Kansas has beaten 10 of the teams in the NCAA Tournament field. Not many can say that.
So Sunflower State fans — we might be missing the Wichita State Shockers this year (look out next year), but we have two very good teams to represent us.
The good news is this isn’t our first time to the dance!
We already know every tune they’ll be playing!
Buddy Tabler is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune and his views don’t necessarily reflect those of the paper. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.