MANHATTAN — The last time the Kansas State Wildcats received a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, it did not end well.
It did end quickly, however, with a 63-61 first-round loss to No. 13 La Salle in the 2013 opener at Kansas City's Sprint Center.
That early exit still gnaws at Bruce Weber, who in his first season as K-State coach had led the Wildcats to a share of the Big 12 regular-season title before the early flame-out. So much so that he's doing everything he can to make sure history does not repeat itself.
"One of my most disappointing games in my career was in '13, playing in Kansas City," Weber said after the Wildcats again were awarded a No. 4 seed Sunday in this year's tournament. "Maybe I was trying to make (the players) think ahead, just because I brought it up to them at Christmas.
"I hope we have them ready to go."
The difference this time is that the Wildcats (25-8), who are No. 4 in the South Regional, are flying halfway across the country for their first-round game against No. 13 UC Irvine (30-5) in San Jose, Calif. Tipoff will be at 1 p.m. Central on Friday at SAP Center.
In order to acclimate to the two-hour time difference, Weber had his team flying out at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
"We've been trying to leave early and get to some places, and when we're able to do that our preparation and focus is pretty good," Weber said of the early departure. "The thing I think we've really emphasized and the thing that I've talked about to them is every game is different.
"That's something we've tried to teach and learn throughout the year, (that) you can't mentally say we're going to do this or that (because) every game is different. The ball bounces different, shots go in, they don't go in, but control what you can control."
One thing the Wildcats can't control at this point is the health of senior forward Dean Wade, who missed the Big 12 Tournament with a recurrence of the foot injury that sidelined him for six games in December and January. Wade arrived at the airport Tuesday on crutches and Weber said the injury was worse than first thought, listing him as "doubtful" for Friday's game.
A positive note is that the Wildcats went through a similar situation last year when Wade was out with a broken foot and they still advanced all the way to the Elite Eight.
"I think it's important," Weber said of that experience. "The only thing is, they can't anticipate that they're going to win.
"That's why I said foreshadowing, whatever the words are, trying to get them to think ahead. I've been trying to put things in their heads about the importance of preparation, understanding your opponent and all that."
Kamau Stokes agreed that last year's experience was helpful, though fellow senior guard Barry Brown wasn't so sure.
"It's in the back of our mind, knowing we are capable and were able to do it, but it's a new team," Brown said. "It's new teams we're going to play and we're still a new team because we've grown.
"It's going to be different, so having (the experience) last year is good, but March is here and it's time to do something different."
The first step will be to get past Big West champion UC Irvine, which has won 16 straight games coming into the tournament. Win that game and they'll play Sunday against either No. 5 seed Wisconsin or No. 12 Oregon, with that winner advancing to the regional semifinals in Louisville.
Wisconsin ended the Wildcats' seasons in the second round both in 2008 and 2011.
But there is no simple formula for surviving the first weekend.
"It's a quick turnaround," Stokes said. "That's one of the things the tournament we just came off of helps with — preparing for quick turnarounds because you've got to get ready for a different team hours after you finished playing.
"So knowing it's a quick turnaround, you've just got to get focused, locked in and get ready for your next opponent."