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Past and future conference mates Colorado and Kansas State to meet in women's NCAA Tournament

NCAA Portland Kansas St Basketball
Posted at 7:12 PM, Mar 23, 2024

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Colorado and Kansas State were in the same conference from 1982-2011, and they'll be together again starting next season when Colorado returns to the Big 12.

For now, the Buffaloes are still a Pac-12 team, and they'll take on the Wildcats on Sunday with the winner heading to the Sweet 16.

The game, already announced as a sellout, ought to be a physical tussle on Kansas State's home floor.

“It’s a great matchup," Kansas State coach Jeff Mittie said. “It’s two really good teams that had really good years in their respective leagues. I think it’s a matchup that deserves the crowd that we’re going to have and the energy that we’re going to have in that building.”

Fifth-seeded Colorado advanced to the second round with an 86-72 victory over No. 12 seed Drake. The fourth-seeded Wildcats beat No. 13 seed Portland 78-65.

Friday's games were played in front of an announced crowd of 9,642, just short of a sellout at Bramlage Coliseum. While appreciating the support, the K-State players were hoping for even more.

“It was amazing in there,” Gabby Gregory said. “When we came out to shoot our layups right before tip, I had a huge smile on my face because that is the crowd that we want to play in. I think it really speaks to the growth of women’s basketball, that we get to play in front of almost sold-out crowds.

“But I can’t wait to have a sellout on Sunday.”

The crowd helped the Wildcats early. They scored the first seven points against Portland and led 25-10 at the end of the first quarter.

“I certainly liked our start and I liked a lot of things we were doing,” Mittie said. “I think we needed a game like this, to get the nerves out of the (way). ... Portland certainly, we couldn’t run away from ’em. Every time we extended it out, they made plays.”

Meanwhile, things went about as well as could be expected for Colorado Friday night. The Buffaloes were tested in the first half, but they pulled away with a 25-12 third quarter. And they're ready to play against a hostile crowd.

“I wouldn’t say, ‘Woohoo, let’s always play in front of opposing crowds,’ but I think it’s something that we’ve seen all season long and something that we’re definitely prepared to do,” Colorado guard Maddie Nolan said.

The Buffaloes also believe it should have been the Wildcats visiting them.

“We were definitely in a battle for that 4-seed,” Frida Formann said. “Not that they don’t deserve it. They had a great season. But of course we wanted to host. So now, being in this environment, we feel like we have something to prove.”