Only eight teams remain in the NCAA Tournament.
Most would agree that the Kansas State Wildcats aren’t the premier program among the bunch. Rather, that honor is reserved for Villanova, Duke, or even Kansas.
But the bottom-feeder of the entire Elite Eight? After winning five of its last six games, including a Sweet 16 victory over a college basketball blue blood in Kentucky, is Kansas State the worse among the teams still dancing?
Yes, according to Bleacher Report, which ranked the Wildcats No. 8 in its Elite Eight power rankings.
However, despite being ranked No. 8 among the teams in the Elite Eight, Kansas State is still here. That means despite not being a favorite — actually, the furthest thing from it — Kansas State is one of the few teams that can still boast national championship aspirations.
Bleacher Report’s Kerry Miller detailed what that championship blueprint looks like.
“Keep holding opponents below 65 points. The Wildcats are now 14-1 when keeping teams at or below that threshold,” Miller said. “And in the lone exception to the rule, Kansas State shot 32.1 percent from the field and 4-of-31 (12.9 percent) from three-point range in a loss to Tulsa. If the defense stays this good—and the offense avoids another performance that awful—the Wildcats can continue to grind out wins.”
The first step for the program to potentially reach its first Final Four since 1964, and furthermore, its first national championship since 1951, is to get past Loyola-Chicago in the Elite Eight.
The Ramblers have won 20 of their past 21 games, and thus, were ranked No. 7 in Bleacher Report’s power rankings. After beating Miami, Tennessee, and Nevada by a combined four points, the Wildcats stifling defense will aim to bring that streak of narrow success to an end.
Either way, one of what Bleacher Report ranked as the worst two teams still in the tournament will see its season end on Saturday. Kansas State and Loyola-Chicago are set to tip-off at 6:09 p.m. ET.