Big 12 Basketball

Do These Numbers Prove Kansas State Basketball is Cursed?

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Kansas State

It’s been a rough college basketball season for many fans, but especially for Kansas State fans. I had a few friends text me throughout the season saying “your articles almost write themselves, don’t they?” They definitely don’t write themselves, but record-breaking futility does give one plenty of topics to write about. It also means that K-State fans once again have to watch the NCAA tournament rooting for their bracket since their team isn’t in it again.

I have to admit it’s almost infuriating watching all of these ex-K-State coaches not only take their teams to the tournament but find a lot of success there while K-State is not a participant yet again. It’s hard to watch and not think “what might have been” had some of them stayed at Kansas State. This gave me the idea to look at all of the K-State basketball coaches in the last 35 years to see what they did in the tournament while coaching at K-State vs. what they did in the tournament while coaching at other programs. The results are quite interesting.


Lon Kruger

Lon Kruger was the head coach for four seasons at K-State, from 1986 to 1990. Before being hired as K-State’s coach he coached at Texas Pan-American for four years. After leaving K-State, he’s had stops at Florida, Illinois, UNLV, and Oklahoma with a three-year stint coaching the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA from 2000 to 2003. Here’s his post-season record at K-State versus all of his other stops.

At K-State

Made the tournament four straight seasons, 1986-1990, every year he coached at K-State
One Elite 8
A 4-4 tournament record

Other schools

16 NCAA tournaments
Two Final Fours
Two Sweet 16s
An 18-16 tournament record

Did K-State miss out on a couple of Final Fours because Lon Kruger left Manhattan? Possibly. His successor had similar success after he left K-State.

Dana Altman

Dana Altman also coached four seasons at K-State, from 1990-1994. He coached one season at Marshall before he was hired to replace Lon Kruger. After leaving K-State he went on to become the head coach at Creighton and is now the head coach at Oregon. Here are his postseason results at K-State versus the other schools he coached at.

At K-State

One NCAA Tournament
An 0-1 tournament record

Other schools

14 NCAA tournaments
One Final 4
One Elite 8
Three Sweet 16s
A 16-14 tournament record

Just a Final Four, an Elite 8, and three Sweet 16s. This isn’t looking good.


Tom Asbury

Tom Asbury replaced Dana Altman at K-State and coached for six years. He coached at Pepperdine before and after his stint at K-State. Here are his postseason results at both Pepperdine and K-State.

At K-State

One NCAA tournament A 0-1 record

Other schools

Three NCAA tournaments
An 0-3 NCAA tournament record

Asbury couldn’t win in the tournament anywhere he coached, but he did make three tournaments at Pepperdine versus one at K-State.

Jim Wooldridge

Jim Wooldridge replaced Tom Asbury as coach at K-State and coached at K-State for six years. Before arriving in Manhattan, he coached at Central Missouri State, Southwest Texas State, and Louisiana Tech. After being fired at K-State he finished his coaching career at UC Riverside. Here are his postseason stats:

At K-State

Zero NCAA tournaments

Other schools

One NCAA tournament A 0-1 tournament record

Asbury and Wooldridge are the two anomalies in the history of K-State basketball. They’re the only two coaches that didn’t find a lot of success anywhere they coached.


Bob Huggins

Bob Huggins replaced Jim Wooldridge at K-State and coached for one season in Manhattan. Before arriving in Manhattan he coached at Walsh, Akron, and Cincinnati, and after resigning from K-State he has coached at West Virginia. Here’s his post-season record at K-State versus his other stops.

At K-State

0 NCAA tournaments in one season. (They did make the NIT.)

Other schools

25 NCAA tournaments
Two Final Fours
Two Elite 8s
Five Sweet 16s 34-25 tournament record

Did K-State miss out on another Final Four because Bob Huggins bolted to West Virginia? We’ll never know.

Frank Martin

Frank Martin replaced Bob Huggins and coached at K-State for five years and has been at South Carolina ever since. Here are his postseason records at K-State versus South Carolina.

At K-State

Four NCAA Tournaments
One Elite 8
A 6-4 tournament record

Other schools

One NCAA tournament
One Final 4 A 4-1 tournament record

Martin made one Final Four at South Carolina, but hasn’t found much success outside of that great season.

Bruce Weber

Bruce Weber replaced Frank Martin and has been the head coach at K-State for nine years. Before coaching at K-State he coached at Southern Illinois and Illinois. Here’s his postseason record at K-State versus his other coaching stops:

At K-State

Five NCAA tournaments
One Elite 8
A 3-5 tournament record

Other schools

Eight NCAA tournaments
A 12-8 tournament record
One Final 4
Two Sweet 16s

Weber had more postseason success at his previous stops than he has had at K-State even though he did make the Elite 8 a few years ago.

So what does all this tell us? It tells me that K-State basketball may be cursed! The last time K-State was in the Final Four was 1964. In the past 35 years, gentlemen that have been the head coach at K-State have made seven Final Fours. Seven!?

Here’s the combined postseason records of Bruce Weber and his predecessors during the last 35 years while they were at K-State and while they were coaching at other schools:

At K-State

15 NCAA tournaments A 13-15 tournament record Three Elite 8s

At other schools

68 NCAA tournaments
An 84-68 tournament record Seven Final Fours

Three Elite 8s
12 Sweet 16s

Bob Huggins skews these numbers a little bit since he was only at K-State one year and he has coached successfully a very long time. Who knows what would have happened if he had stayed at K-State. These coaches have made SEVEN Final Fours and FIVE of them AFTER they coached at K-State? That’s downright depressing!

I think I’ll go take some Tylenol and root for Dana Altman and the Oregon Ducks on Sunday in the Sweet 16. Enjoy the Sweet 16 and Elite 8, everybody!

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