With a win this past Saturday in Waco, Texas the Kansas State Wildcats men's basketball team did more than simply raise their conference record back to .500 they put a badly needed spark back into their season.
The victory was indeed extremely important from a pure record standpoint as it gave K-State another signature victory which should help them gain a spot in this year's NCAA tournament field barring a complete year end meltdown. Maybe more important though is what the win did for the confidence and general disposition of the Kansas State fanbase.
Before the Baylor game, Wildcat fans were coming off a past few weeks where they had to suffer through watching some horrible stretches of basketball. Enthusiasm was low as K-State was coming off a home loss to rival Kansas where the Wildcats execution in the final few minutes could only be described as inexcusable. This performance was on the heels of a road game in Austin where the Longhorns erased a double digit second half deficit to come back and defeat K-State by double digits, a feat not easily accomplished. Even before the two losses, K-State had a home victory against Texas Tech where only the most passionate Wildcat fans could have been entertained as both teams struggled mightily to put the ball in the basket and the K-State team looked wholly uninterested in playing.
These two losses combined with their next two games on the road against Baylor and Missouri respectively made it look like K-State might end up in the NIT. A loss to both the Bears and Tigers would have also put K-State with a record of 6-8 in the conference and talk might have turned to how well situation the Wildcat program is moving forward under Frank Martin.
Add in the fact that Missouri and Kansas are both ranked in the Top 10 and it's now impossible to turn on the television or listen to sports radio in the Kansas City area without hearing about the Tigers and Jayhawks non-stop and it was enough to make Wildcat fans quite eager for spring football to arrive.
So while every K-State fan knows their team isn't suddenly back in the race for the Big 12 title the win allows Wildcat fans to quit worrying about making the tournament and focusing on what potential seed they might receive. Even if the Wildcats do not win a game in the NCAA Tournament K-State fans can look back on this season with a much fonder viewpoint of what was accomplished by a team where most everyone returns. It is quite amazing what one game that was decided by a single point can do in the overall landscape of a season.