Wichita State is perfect. At least their record is perfect; they have won 34 games on path to an undefeated season and have claimed their eighth regular season conference championship. They will be among the top seeds in the NCAA championship when the bracket is released this Sunday, but still doubters remain.
Wichita State is small. There are critics who believe that the Shockers will be underdogs against most major conference teams in the tournament and that their easy schedule has given them a false sense of security. In reality, Wichita State’s schedule is not their fault.
The Shockers’ senior associate athletics director has revealed that the bigger conference teams do not want to play them. "Some [big schools] were interested in playing us, but it was, 'You come to our place for a guarantee, or we're not playing,'" Darron Boatright says. "It doesn't even get to: home and home... It doesn't even get there. It's just, 'We'll give you $125,000 to come to our place.' And we won't do it.”
So what are the Shockers going to do if other teams are scared of them on the road? They’re going to dominate, and that’s exactly what they’ve done for the last few years. Under Gregg Marshall, the Shockers have won over 25 games for five straight years and have made it into the NCAA tournament twice.Last year they even made it into the Final Four, something, which teams from the dominant ACC have only done once since 2010.
And this is where the critics’ argument falls down. Wichita State can deal with the higher conferenced teams that the tournament throws up. They’ve done it before, with a weaker team, now all they have to do is do it all again.
Of course it is not that easy. Can the Shockers win it all? The odds are stacked against them, but they are well and truly worthy of their one seed should they get it.
A victory or two in the tournament this year will put this small mid-major team on the map and give the coaching staff the credit they deserve after a season of perfection.
A few more wins than that and we can start talking about one of the truly great teams in the history of college basketball. There is nothing small about that.