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Kansas State must overcome nemesis to win its first conference tournament title in 33 years

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(USA Today Sports Images)

If Kansas State is going to win its first conference tournament title since 1980, it must overcome a lot of ugly history against its rival Kansas, not to mention a Jayhawks team that appears to be in line for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament next week.

The Wildcats advanced to the Big 12 championship game by beating Oklahoma State on Friday and Kansas beat Iowa State. It is the second time in the past four years the two teams from the Sunflower state will play in the title game.

Kansas beat Kansas State here in 2010. It was one of numerous examples of the Wildcats failing in big moments against the Jayhawks. Kansas has been dominant in the series and coach Bill Self has never lost to the Wildcats in the conference tournament. He's 7-0 in those games and 20-3 overall against Kansas State as coach of the Jayhawks.

Kansas State star Rodney McGruder was a freshman on that 2010 team, and he talked to the Kansas City Star about how that loss and the tearful locker room afterward still bothers him three years later. Fellow senior Jordan Henriquez also participate in that game.

“We have a shot, but I’ve been here before,” McGruder said. “You can’t get excited. You just have to keep your poise and go in there ready to play.”

Kansas won the previous two meetings this season, but that doesn't always foreshadow a victory in the third meeting. However, the Jayhawks are 8-1 in the conference championship game.

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