After his Kansas State beat Wake Forest 95-88 on Thursday night, Bruce Weber laid out in one long answer the good and the bad of his Wildcats playing in the First Four.
First and foremost, of course, it meant the Wildcats at least were invited to the tournament at all.
Second, the coach confirmed he knew every year of the First Four’s existence at least one team has gone on to win another game in the Big Dance.
But here’s the downside: KSU’s next game is not only against a tough Cincinnati team, it’s in Sacramento, Calif.
Dayton may be the birthplace of aviation, but that doesn’t mean flights out of here travel any faster.
“I started talking to our guys about it about three weeks ago,” Weber said of the history of the First Four, which began in 2011 when VCU went all the way to the Final Four after beating USC in Dayton.
“I told them the VCU story and Coach (Shaka) Smart, and if I remember right they didn’t even meet for the Selection Sunday. And then they got in and they won and then they kept going, went all the way to the Final Four. I brought that up several weeks ago.
“And after we lost to West Virginia (in the Big 12 tournament) I said, ‘Guys, if we get – I told them it was an advantage. We got beat by La Salle (in 2013), who came through here, and we were the Big 12 champs. And they came to Kansas City. You would think everything was on our side and they just — they shot lights out.
“So I’m telling them it’s an advantage. Right now we’ve got to get back there. They’ve got us flying at like 9:00 in the morning to Sacramento. So we’ve got a long day ahead of us.
“By tomorrow afternoon we’ve got to have a good game plan and start, and probably have an hour just on the court talking, get a good dinner, get a good rest.”
The Wildcats will have practice and media obligations in California on Thursday then play Mick Cronin’s Bearcats at 7:27 Eastern on Friday night.
“We’ll make it a go,” said Weber, who called Cincinnati “really good, really tough,” then compared the Bearcats to West Virginia.
The Mountaineers beat the Wildcats in two of three meetings this season.
“We’ve played physical teams,” Weber said. “We’ve played teams that go up and down, Kansas. So we can adjust. And it won’t be easy but I know our guys will come ready to play.”
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