K-State women lock down 9th seed, will play Michigan in NCAA Tournament

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Junior forward Peyton Williams scans the court for an open play during the K-State women’s basketball game against Texas Tech in Bramlage Coliseum on March 2. The Wildcats beat the Red Raiders 75-67. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State women’s basketball team found out where it was headed for post-season play a little bit earlier than expected Monday night.

The NCAA Tournament bracket was scheduled to be released by ESPN at 6 p.m. central time during a special selection show. Due to an error, the bracket graphics were accidentally aired earlier in the day.

K-State earned a ninth seed in the Albany Region of the NCAA Tournament. Their first round game will be hosted by first-seed Louisville and will be against eighth-seed Michigan.

K-State finished its regular season with a record of 21-11 overall and 11-7 in Big 12 Conference play. The Wildcats won eight of their last ten games, with the two losses during that stretch each coming at the hands of top-ranked Baylor.

Michigan earned its seed by also going 21-11 overall this year and 11-7 in Big 10 Conference play. The Wolverines played the 67th toughest schedule in the nation and sit at number 46 in the NCAA’s rating percentage index rankings, or RPI.

The NCAA still uses RPI to rank women’s basketball teams because they have not optimized an NCAA Evaluation Tool, or NET ranking, for the women’s game.

The Wolverines’ roster features a 6-foot-5-inch senior center named Hallie Thome who averages 12.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. She also has blocked 37 shots this season.

Also for the Wolverines, freshman forward Naz Hillmon has not started a game yet in her young career, but she averages a team-high 13.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.

The Michigan team is fairly experienced, with two juniors, three seniors and one graduate student on its roster.

Michigan shared just one common opponent with K-State: Texas. The Wolverines lost to the Longhorns 69-52 during a mid-season tournament in December.

By contrast, K-State swept Texas this season, winning 87-69 in Manhattan and 69-60 in Austin, Texas.

If K-State were to beat Michigan, the Wildcats would likely take on top-seeded Louisville on its home court.

This is the Wildcats’ 16th NCAA Tournament bid since the first NCAA Women’s Tournament in 1982. Additionally, this is K-State’s third trip to the tournament under head coach Jeff Mittie.

K-State has not advanced past the first weekend since a “Sweet Sixteen” run in 2002, and the Wildcats have been eliminated in the second round in their last three NCAA Tournaments.

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