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March Madness Bracket 2012: How Kansas State Got There

Kansas State will be looking to open some eyes during the NCAA Tournament as Rodney McGruder looks to lead the Wildcats past the opening weekend for the first time since 2010.

It's been a challenging season in Manhattan, Kansas, but the Wildcats of Kansas State did what they need to do down the stretch as they enter the NCAA Tournament with a 21-10 record and will be the No. 8 seed in the East region.

Kansas State got off to an 11-1 start that included victories over talented Alabama and Long Beach State teams. The one slip-up in non-conference play was an 85-80 double overtime home loss on December 8th to West Virginia and former head coach Bob Huggins.

The Wildcats got off to a 1-3 start in conference play, including a nine point loss at Oklahoma. Ironically the only win during that time was a 16-point victory over the Missouri Tigers, as Rodney McGruder and company put the defensive clamps on the high-octane Tigers.

Sitting at 6-7 in conference and 17-8 overall, and facing a tough Baylor squad in Waco on February 18th, the Wildcats won a thrilling 57-56 contest that propelled them to a strong finish that saw them end10-8 overall in the Big 12.

Kansas State can be a hard team to figure out at times as they were swept by lowly OU, but then again they also swept Big 12 Tournament Champion Missouri this season.

Leading the way is definitely McGruder, the 6'4" junior guard from Washington, D.C. He is averaging 15.4 points per game this season and was named second-team All-Conference. He was also on the first-team All-Conference defensive team.

Joining McGruder on the first-team defensive team was 6'11" junior forward Jordan Henriquez of Port Chester, New York. He is averaging 7.2 points per game and 5.3 rebounds.

For the Wildcats to go far in the third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, the team will need good ball handling by guard Angel Rodriguez and someone to join McGruder in stepping up to carry the team.

Follow along with complete K-State coverage by visiting Bring On The Cats, your home for Kansas State sports on the SB Nation network of blogs.