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Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

Breaking down Jerome Tang’s March Madness case

His case has validity but is not perfect
Avery Johnson
Head coach Jerome Tang answers questions during Big 12 Media Days on Oct. 18, 2023 in Kansas City, Mo. On Thursday, after losing to Iowa State 76-57 in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals, Tang laid out his case for why K-State deserved to be in March Madness. (Archive photo)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After Thursday night’s 76-57 loss to Iowa State, Kansas State head coach Jerome Tang went to the podium prepared to make a statement. When asked about the Wildcats’ case to earn a bid in the NCAA tournament, Tang ran down a plethora of bullet point reasons why K-State has earned the opportunity to play further into March. The laundry list of reasons had strong points but wasn’t perfect.

Five Quad 1 wins, four wins against top 30 in NET, five in top 40

Not every Wildcat performance has been impressive, but where Tang is absolutely right is their ability to beat everyone. K-State grabbed five strong Big 12 wins, defeating every team they played twice or more. If anything, K-State has proven they can compete with some of the best.

Validity: 10/10

Strength of schedule and non-conference

Tang’s strength of schedule argument had a plethora of bullet points to check off.

  • No. 1 SOS of all bubble teams
  • Non-conference
    • Ninth best defense in the country
    • 35th best offense in the country
    • 1-0 vs. SEC (road win against LSU)
    • 2-0 vs. Big East

While K-State did have to claw away from some lesser teams, it is clear that they still held their own when playing against competent non-conference teams.

Validity: 9/10

Overtime wins going against them

The Wildcats set multiple overtime records with a 7-0 record in extra time. While this is seen as a strength, Tang pointed out how the analytics hurt a team for an overtime win. As Tang said, a win is a win. Nevertheless, entering overtime matchups against the likes of Oral Roberts and North Alabama and barely defeating other Quad 4 teams is a negative that is hard to ignore.

Validity: 7.5/10

K-State played multiple teams at their best

Another point mentioned Thursday night was the fact K-State competed against multiple teams at their best. Each game mentioned had its own level of validity.

Nov. 6: Lost to then-No. 21 USC 82-69 

Tang mentioned the win against the Trojans, mentioning they were healthy and ranked at this time. While USC was ranked, they were not too impressive in November, suffering two losses, one to Quad 3 UC Irvine. They also struggled in December, going 1-5, including a Quad 4 loss.

Validity: 4/10
Nov. 17: Defeat Providence 73-70 in OT with Bryce Hopkins

Tang’s Providence argument is much stronger than the USC game. The win against Providence — a probable NCAA tournament team — at a neutral site with Friar star forward Bryce Hopkins playing. Hopkins played only 14 games this season, and was a crucial loss due to injury. The win itself was impressive, especially in hindsight.

Validity: 9/10
Nov. 19: Loss to then-No. 12 Miami 91-83

No one would have thought Miami would fall to a below .500 team early on. The Hurricanes were once considered a 3-point arsenal, strong enough to compete for a title. While they were much better in November, Miami never grabbed a strong win outside of K-State in November or December. They were better, but never proved it against other competent teams.

Validity: 7/10

Tang also mentioned K-State defeated Kansas at full-strength, which is something that hasn’t been disputed, despite the Jayhawks’ poor play as of late with injuries.

Other points mentioned

  • Best Quad 1 winning percentage of bubble outside of Texas A&M
  • Just three non-tournament team losses
  • Nine Big 12 wins

Final Analysis

Tang’s three minute speech indirectly to the selection committee was strong and to the point. His abundance of reasons were all mostly strong and true. Two problems of course: He focused on just the positive (as he should) and his argument did not include any other teams.

Tang of course is not expected to argue against his team or for others. But, looking at everything, those are the two things going against K-State. Throughout the conference tournaments, multiple bubble teams have amassed multiple major wins, while lower ranked  teams have won conference tournaments, shortening the bubble. 

Chances are, K-State does not receive an NCAA tournament bid and is looking at whether to play in the NIT or not. Either way, if K-State receives that bid they desperately want, the reasons would include a lot of the points Tang laid out.

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About the Contributors
Luke Lazarczyk
Luke Lazarczyk, sports writer
Sports editor for 2023-24. Previously sports editor for 2022-23 and writer for 2021-22.
Avery Johnson
Avery Johnson, multimedia editor
Multimedia editor for 2023-24. Previously photographer for spring 2023.
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