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K-State Earns NIT Bid; to Play Iowa on Tuesday


MANHATTAN, Kan. ( – Kansas State was rewarded for a successful season on Sunday night, as the Wildcats earned their eighth bid to the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) and first since 2009.

K-State (19-14, 8-10 Big 12) received an at-large bid and will play No. 3 seed Iowa (18-14, 10-10 Big Ten) in the first round at 8 p.m., CT on Tuesday, March 19 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. The winner will advance to play the winner of No. 2 seed and future Big 12 member Utah (19-14, 9-11 Pac-12) and Big West regular-season champion UC Irvine (24-9, 17-3 Big West) on Saturday, March 23 or Sunday, March 24.

The Wildcats are joined in the 8-team bracket by top-seed Villanova (18-15), 2-seed Utah (19-14), 3-seed Iowa (18-14) and 4-seed UCF (17-15), which will all host first-round games. In addition to the games between K-State and Iowa and Utah and UC Irvine, Villanova will host VCU (22-13) and UCF will host South Florida (24-7).

K-State is making its 40th postseason appearance, which includes 32 in the NCAA Tournament and eight in the Postseason NIT. The Wildcats have now advanced to the postseason 13 times in the last 18 seasons (10 trips to the NCAA Tournament and three to the NIT). It is the second straight postseason bid under head coach Jerome Tang.

The Wildcats were one of 20 at-large selections to the NIT, as conference mates Cincinnati (20-14) and UCF (17-15) received the Big 12’s two automatic bids as the teams with the highest NET ratings.

The winners of the four 8-team brackets will advance to the Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis for the semifinals on Tuesday, April 2 and the championship on Thursday, April 4.

K-State has a 6-8 record in the NIT, including 4-3 in the first round. The Wildcats will be making their eighth overall appearance in the tournament, including 1976, 1992, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2007 and 2009.

This will be the first trip to the NIT since 2009 when the Wildcats defeated Illinois State, 83-79 in overtime at home, on March 18 before a 70-52 loss at San Diego State on March 20.

Iowa enters Tuesday’s game with an 18-14 overall record, including a tie for sixth place in the Big Ten with a 10-10 mark. The Hawkeyes average 82.9 points on 47.5 percent shooting, including 34.7 percent from 3-point range, and connect on 77.8 percent from the free throw line. Four players are averaging in double figures led by junior Payton Sandfort (16.3 ppg.), senior Tony Perkins (14.5 ppg.), graduate Ben Krikke (13.5 ppg.) and freshman Owen Freeman (10.6 ppg.). Perkins paces the team in assists (147) and Freeman leads in rebounds (6.6 ppg.).

Freeman was named the Co-Big Ten Freshman of the Year by the league coaches, while four others (Perkins, Sandfort, Krikke and sophomore Josh Dix) were selected to various All-Big Ten teams, including Second Team honors for Perkins and Third Team honors for Sandfort.

Iowa is led by longtime head coach Fran McCaffery, who has a 530-367 record in 27 seasons and a 279-190 record in 14 seasons leading the Hawkeyes. He has led Iowa to the postseason on 10 occasions, including to the NCAA Tournament in 5 of the last 6 seasons. This is his fourth trip to the NIT with the Hawkeyes.

The all-time series with Iowa is tied 4-all, which dates to 1946. The Hawkeyes have won the last 2 meetings, including a 65-63 win in the last matchup at the Las Vegas Invitational in the Orleans Arena on Nov. 29, 2008. The Wildcats are 1-3 all-time in games played in Iowa City, including an 89-70 win by the Hawkeyes in the last such meeting on Dec. 22, 2001. This will be the first meeting in the postseason.

The winner of Tuesday’s game will play the winner of the matchup between No. 2 seed Utah (19-14, 9-11 Pac-12) and Big West regular-season champion UC Irvine (24-9) on either Saturday, March 24 or Sunday, March 25. The Utes, which finished in a tie for sixth in the Pac-12 standings, is led by First Team All-Pac-12 selection Branden Carlson (17.1 ppg.) as well as two others in double figures. The Anteaters, which finished 17-3 in the Big West before losing to eventual NCAA Tournament participant Long Beach State in the semifinals, has 7 players averaging better than 7 points per game, including All-Big West First Team selection Pierre Crockrell II (7.9 ppg., 6.4 apg.).

K-State leads the all-time series with Utah, 2-1, but the schools haven’t met since 1983.

The series with UC Irvine is tied 1-all with the Anteaters beating the Wildcats in the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

K-State has posted a 19-14 overall record, including a tie for ninth in the Big 12 with an 8-10 mark. Among the Wildcats’ 19 victories are 4 over Top 25 teams, including 3 in the Top 10. Three players are averaging in double figures led by All-Big 12 Honorable Mention selections Tylor Perry (15.5 ppg.) and Arthur Kaluma (14.7 ppg.).

Perry had a memorable run in the 2023 NIT, as he helped North Texas win the title over UAB en route to earning MVP honors. He averaged 20.6 points on 46 percent shooting in the Mean Green’s 5-game run.

K-State was one of a record 11 Big 12 teams to earn berths to the NCAA Tournament and NIT, including a record eight in the Big Dance.