DAYTON, Ohio -- Coach Bruce Weber started planting the motivational seeds about playing in the First Four well before his Kansas State team made the NCAA tournament field.
That work is already paying off for the Wildcats.
Weber has referenced VCU's famous run from the opening games at UD Arena all the way to the Final Four. He has also pointed to this fact: Every year since the format was tweaked in 2011 to expand the event beyond teams only seeded in the No. 16 slot, one of the winners has advanced and claimed at least one more victory after leaving Dayton.
And now, Weber and the Wildcats have taken the first step to becoming the next program to do it after unleashing one of their most prolific offensive performances of the season on Wake Forest in a 95-88 win Tuesday night, setting up a date with the South Region's No. 6 seed, Cincinnati, on Friday.
"I'm telling them it's an advantage," Weber said. "I started talking to our guys about it three weeks ago. I told them the VCU story and coach [Shaka] Smart, and if I remember right, they didn't even meet for Selection Sunday. ... I brought that up several weeks ago.
"We believed we could win. I'm not sure anyone else did."
The Wildcats might have converted a few doubters with a balanced, explosive attack that came up just one point shy of their season high while scoring more than 80 points for the first time since the middle of January.
Lighting up the scoreboard isn't always easy against conference opponents, particularly in the talent-laden Big 12. But any of the inconsistencies that helped put the Wildcats on the bubble in the first place seemed to disappear against the Demon Deacons, who couldn't stop K-State's red-hot shooting or any of the four Wildcats players who finished in double figures. K-State shot 66 percent from the field (31-for-47).
And if that continues, Kansas State could certainly find itself making a little more First Four history after its hectic travel week continues with a morning flight to Sacramento as it prepares for Cincinnati.
"I'm sure there will be tweeting and texting and all that stuff for the next hour, then we have to settle down," Weber said. "Maybe get on this flight, get to Sacramento and really focus on the game. We've got an hour scheduled [Wednesday] afternoon, nothing physical but talking about Cincinnati, how we're going to guard against them, how we're going to score against them. They're very physical, tough, and they guard.
"I've watched them a few times just as a fan, not anything up close; [assistant] coach [Chester] Frazier has watched four or five games already, so I know I won't sleep tonight. I'll probably watch at least one game tonight to try to figure some things out."
It's a quick turnaround for the Wildcats, but if they haven't been studying for Cincinnati, they've at least been getting a history lesson on the tournament and the opportunity ahead of them.
"Just like any other team in this tournament, it's going to be a good challenge," forward Wesley Iwundu said. "You've got to bring your game once again, night in and night out.
"We're just ready for any challenge that comes our way."