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NCAA Tournament Prediction: Kansas State Could Climb To No. 4 Seed

When a sportswriter talks about timing in the college basketball season, the Kansas State Wildcats can serve as the perfect evidence for what that person is trying to say. A team that sweeps the earlier part of their schedule is always a step behind that team that struggles early but coalesces into a winning unit toward the end of the season, taking their momentum right into the home stretch of the season and the NCAA Tournament. Voters love a late bloomer and the Wildcats are giving experts their sleeper pick.

Of course, it wasn't supposed to be this way early on. Frank Martin's team was supposed to be a force like their in-state rival Kansas Jayhawks all season, and ESPN/USA Today's preseason poll had K-State ranked No. 3 in the country. Unfortunately, the team finally lost its ranking after a mid-season loss to Colorado in January and kept falling after that with road losses to Missouri, Texas A&M and Kansas that further pushed the Wildcats down in the Big 12 standings.

Yet something happened after that first shellacking at Kansas. From there, the Wildcats went on to beat Nebraska and Iowa State before losing a last second contest at Colorado. They've won six in a row since then, including games against top opponents like Texas, Missouri and Kansas. Jacob Pullen is in fine form, putting up nearly 20 points per game and coming up big in major contests (38 points against Kansas).

Right now, Joe Lunardi's bracketology rankings have K-State as a No. 6 seed, but with the season closing win over Iowa State to solidify that momentum, that number should only rise. In fact, a strong run through the tournament may cement the Wildcats as a No. 4 seed and possible fringe spot for a top three, depending on how other conference tournaments fare. Things may have gotten ugly for a while, but college basketball is all about the timing -- the ebb and flow of a season. And Frank Martin has his kids ready to play at just the right time.