ARLINGTON, Texas — The Kansas State Wildcats are probably comfortably in the NCAA Tournament, which starts next week.
Baseball America, one of the game’s most trusted publications, projects the Wildcats as a No. 2 seed and going to the Clemson Regional. Kansas State’s 6-3 loss to TCU on Saturday in the Big 12 semifinals probably didn’t change that much.
But Kansas State head coach Pete Hughes was asked to make the program’s case for a bid, if needed. He made a good case, but also chafed a bit at the fact that he had to answer the question in the first place, considering Kansas State is 35-24, went 13-11 in a parity-driven Big 12 and plays in one of the best conferences in the country.
Could that have something to do with the name across the front of the jersey?
“I think if I had Texas, Texas Tech or TCU on my chest I don’t even get that question, to be honest with you,” Hughes said.
He then went ahead and stated the Wildcats case.
“We tied for second place in the third best conference in the country,” Hughes continued. “We won 15 games in this league this year (including the Big 12 Tournament). And I don’t think that question is asked to more reputable programs that have a little historic value. I don’t think they get that question. We’ve done absolutely everything to get into that national tournament.”
The knock on his team, Hughes said, might be the team’s RPI, one of the main tools the selection committed uses to pick the 64-team field. Kansas State was ranked No. 51 on Saturday. That would put them in a 64-team field, if you were just taking the Top 64 teams. But among Big 12 teams the Wildcats are actually seventh in the conference.
There is an explanation, he says, and it’s why he believes RPI as a tool has “no consistent value.”
“Some schools such as Kansas State are regionally challenged from non-conference games,” Hughes said. “And it’s either play those games or not. If we didn’t play some of the Tuesday, Wednesday games with lesser RPI teams we’d have a better RPI. It’s all about the student athlete experience with student athletes. We’ve got to play those games.”
One Big 12 coach doesn’t need convincing, and that’s the coach of the team that beat the Wildcats on Saturday, TCU’s Kirk Saarloos.
“I think they should get in,” Saarloos said.
The Wildcats will find out on Monday.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard