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2018 NCAA tournament preview: No. 9 Kansas State

Kansas State Wildcats: 22-11, 10-8 in the Big 12

Head coach: Bruce Weber (6th season)

Players to watch: Dean Wade (16.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 44.0 3PT%); Barry Brown (16.5 PPG, 3.4 APG, 46.3 FG%); Xavier Sneed (10.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG)

Season recap: From the get-go, Kansas State was rolling in its 2017-18 campaign. Despite being picked to finish eighth among 10 teams in the Big 12, the Wildcats ripped off four straight wins to start their season with eight victories in their first nine contests—the only loss a 92-90 defeat at the hands of Arizona State.

But in a loaded conference, Kansas State found itself riding somewhat of a roller coaster, never stringing together more than three straight wins in Big 12 action. After dropping to below .500 with a one-point loss at the Phog vs. Kansas, though, the Wildcats picked up a trio of consecutive victories before adding to it with a nonconference win against Georgia in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

With four wins in its last six games, Kansas State enters March with some momentum despite falling to Kansas 83-67 in the Big 12 tournament semifinals. Dean Wade and Barry Brown give the Wildcats a dynamic 1-2 punch, with the duo combining for 33.0 points a night—nearly half of their team's offense. Add in eight others who play at least eight minutes per game, and Kansas State has the depth a team needs come postseason play.

How they make a run: The Wildcats knock off a top seed in the second round in a year where parity has dominated the college basketball world. Kansas State returns to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2010 and makes just its second trip in three decades.

How they falter: With opponents keying in on both Wade and Brown, the Wildcats struggle to find other offense. Even if Kansas State slips into the second round, Bruce Weber's squad misses out on the tournament's second weekend yet again.

Mitchell Gladstone | Sports Managing Editor

Twitter: @mpgladstone13

A junior from just outside Philadelphia, Mitchell is probably reminding you how the Eagles won the Super Bowl this year and that the Phillies are definitely on the rebound. Outside of The Chronicle, he majors in Economics, minors in Statistics and is working toward the PJMS certificate, in addition to playing trombone in the Duke University Marching Band. And if you're getting him a sandwich with beef and cheese outside the state of Pennsylvania, you best not call it a "Philly cheesesteak." 


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