Anyone heading to Manhattan’s Aggieville district this afternoon might think about getting there on foot.
With Kansas State playing Butler at 3:30 p.m. in the NCAA Tournament, Riley County police are closing some streets to motor vehicles for the safety of people visiting Aggieville after the game. The restrictions will be in place until 3 a.m. Sunday.
Salt Lake City Kansas State guard Jacob Pullen says he was much more excited than he was tired.
As draining as the Wildcats’ double-overtime win over Xavier was in the West Regional semifinals on Thursday night, Pullen said his thoughts were racing too much for him to fall asleep. Pullen just stayed in his hotel bed, remembering what he and the Wildcats had just done and could still be on the verge of doing.
Kansas State plays Butler today in the regional final. A trip to the Final Four is on the line, so multiple overtimes and near-sleepless nights really don’t make much of a dent in the fervor the Wildcats are feeling.
“We’re antsy to play. Any team would be antsy to play. It’s a big game,” Pullen said. “At the same time, we’re still focused. We’re still calm. We feel like we’re taking another step toward where we want to be at the end of our season.”
Kansas State (29-7) is trying to get back to the Final Four for the first time since 1964. Butler (31-4) has never been — and this year the national semifinals and championship are being decided in the Bulldogs’ hometown of Indianapolis.
Both teams were still on a bit of a high Friday because of the way they won the night before. The second-seeded Wildcats had to withstand Xavier’s rallies at the end of regulation and the first overtime before finally winning, 101-96. The fifth-seeded Bulldogs advanced by upsetting Syracuse — the No. 1 seed in the West.
“I didn’t sleep much,” K-State coach Frank Martin said. “That’s where Sunday is right around the corner. I’ll sleep a lot on Sunday.”
The Wildcats knew that they were at a slight disadvantage by having to play two overtimes in the late game Thursday after the Bulldogs had already advanced.
“I know that I love watching games like that from the couch on TV — not on the sidelines,” Martin said.
Martin said he was looking at Butler tape until about 3 a.m. as he and his assistants tried to learn all they could in a very short window between games.
“They’re good. I mean, you don’t win 23 games in a row by being an average team,” Martin said.