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Criticize Wichita State if you must, but appreciate what we’re witnessing

Feb 26, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

source: AP


We witnessed college basketball history on Tuesday night.

You might not have noticed it happened, but it certainly did happen.

No. 2 Wichita State — the most over-analyzed team in the country — moved to 30-0 with yet another dominating win in the Missouri Valley, this one coming by a final margin of 69-49 at Bradley. It’s the first time in the history of our great sport that any team has ever gone 30-0 in the regular season. That record could be bested on Saturday, when Wichita State hosts Missouri State in the regular season finale.

Last Saturday, the Shockers became the first team to be 29-0 since Illinois pulled off the feat in 2004-2005. They lost in their last regular season game to Ohio State. With a win next Saturday, the Shockers will become the first team to enter their conference tournament undefeated since St. Joseph’s did it in 2003-2004. They lost the opener to Xavier. If Gregg Marshall can somehow steer his team clear of any and all landmines during Arch Madness, Wichita State will become the first team to enter the NCAA tournament undefeated since UNLV did so in 1990-1991. They made it all the way to the Final Four before getting dropped by Bobby Hurley and Christian Laettner on the way to Coach K’s first title as the head coach at Duke.

The Shockers are 75% of the way to a perfect, 40-0 season. Many predicted that this would be the season that a program made a push to become the first undefeated team in college basketball since Bobby Knight and Indiana went an entire season unblemished in 1976.

But that was supposed to be Kentucky and their amazing recruiting class and seven first round draft picks. It wasn’t supposed to be a Wichita State team that lost a pair of starters off of a fluky run to the Final Four.

And yet, here we are, one month of perfect basketball away from a team winning 40 games in a college basketball season.

For a minute, let’s put aside the arguments about just how good this Wichita State team is. Anyone with half a brain will understand both sides. The Shockers are undefeated … but they’re still largely untested against elite teams. The win at Saint Louis is really impressive … but it’s also just a win at Saint Louis. They’ve beaten everyone that was willing to play them this season, they’re coming off of a run to the Final Four and hell if it’s their fault that the Missouri Valley’s also-rans just so happened to all be down the same year that Creighton left the league … but that simply doesn’t change the fact that they haven’t played anywhere near the schedule that power conference teams have.

That argument will get us nowhere, because neither side is going to back down. There’s no nuance. It’s not possible to say that Wichita State is really, really good while also saying that they wouldn’t make it through the Big 12 or Big Ten unscathed. You’re either a fan boy or a hater. There is no in-between, and twitter feed the last week has had to bear the brunt of the arguing.

There’s nothing wrong with the back-and-forth. Fans are, by nature, passionate and vocal. Journalists are, by profession, going to pick a side and stand by it.

But through the bickering, remember this: We are watching history happen.

No one has won the first 30 games of a season in 23 years. In the last 34 years, there have been exactly two teams that won every regular season game.

Wichita State is a fascinating story, one that we are watching unfold possession by possession.

So while you argue the merits of their resume and whether or not they deserve to be a No. 1 seed, be sure that it doesn’t cloud the fact that this team is making a run at perfection, at immortality in our sport.

Make sure you have a chance to enjoy the run along with them.

It may not happen for a very long time.

  1. jcmeyer10 - Feb 26, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    I’m not trying to be a hater but it’s the Boise State argument all over again. I just wish that they could be in a major conference. Their win against St Louis on the road was solid but other than that over half their games have been played against teams with an RPI between 101 and 200.

    Wichita St. is 5-0 against teams with an RPI of 1-100. Florida is 13-2, Arizona is 13-2, Cuse is 15-1. For a better comparison, SLU is 9-2, and Creighton is 11-4. All these teams have played over ten teams with an RPI between 1 and 100.

    I know RPI is not the be all and end all but with that kind of discretion between teams, I think the conference issue is potentially problematic when trying to say this team would be able to do this in a major conference or against a tougher non-conference schedule.

  2. jcmeyer10 - Feb 26, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    All in all, yes this is really cool! Thanks for the write up Dauster. You’re a saint for penning another word on the subject of the Buffaloes. I love ’em but unless Ski, X and Scotty can bring the heat every night and the guards can hit the 3 ball, this is a mediocre team.

  3. novasportsfan - Feb 26, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    Mediocre or not to be 30-0 is a tough feat. This is a team that made the Final 4 last year and still gets no respect. The voters need to quit being haters and respect this team. Vote them #1, they deserve it until proven otherwise..

  4. dadawg77 - Feb 26, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    Is it being a hater saying they are a very good team, which would have a much hard time going undefeated in a better conference. They would be a top two team in any conference.

  5. musketmaniac - Feb 26, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    That’s a good basketball team. the national (soldout)media has labeled Bcs only on almost everything, Hopefully all four final teams are from the non bcs conferences.

  6. packhawk04 - Feb 26, 2014 at 6:42 PM

    Yes, quite a few complete morons thought kentucky would go undefeated. Thats what they are too… complete morons.

    Congrats to witchita… 30-0 is tough in any conference, and after a final four berth, obviously they are legit.

  7. chukychez1 - Mar 3, 2014 at 3:50 PM

    Even coach Marshall would like a tougher schedule, & is open to any school. A game against KU or KSU would do wonders for RPI, SOS, or any other polls. More puzzling is how can KU get a #1 seed with seven loses? Yet poster bias balk at WSU’s 30-0 & possible #1 seed? WSU hung at least 2 loses on every team in the MVC. Other then a 3 point win at MSU, they pretty much crushed every opponent. Was it because the league was week, or that WSU was that good? We’ll see when NCAA tournament rolls around.

  8. shockertalk - Mar 3, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    How do you seed Wichita State University?
    1. Coaches opinion – No. 2 in the ESPN rankings
    2. History – Final Four last year
    3. Quality of players THIS year – 7 of 9 players in last year’s Final Four are back
    4. Stats – One of one two teams in the country that are “top 15” in BOTH defense and offense.
    5. Point guard – Fred VanVleet has better stats than Wilbeken, Arizona’s (forget his name, or Ennis. Also a top 25 candidate for Robertson and Cousy awards.
    6. Record this year – UNDEFEATED
    7. Teams beat – 5 (maybe 6) NCAA bound teams
    8. Cool opinions – Bobby Knight says there is no team with a better defense than WSU.

    So, yes, it is PARTIALLY a matter of WHO you played, but it is equally (and in the end probably more) HOW you played. How have they played? Oh yeah, UNDEFEATED!

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