Mar 9, 2014, 4:54 PM EDT
No. 2 Wichita State did it.
They won all 13 games in non-conference play, then won all 18 games in the Missouri Valley, and then won three more at Arch Madness in Saint Louis, taking home the MVC tournament title and becoming the first team since UNLV in 1991 to enter the NCAA tournament undefeated.
Win No. 34 came against a scrappy Indiana State team that was good enough to notch a victory at Notre Dame earlier this season. The Sycamores were down by 15 points early in the second half, but they trimmed it to as close as four at one point down the stretch, but MVC Player of the Year Fred Van Vleet and Tekele Cotton were just too much, hitting run-quelling jumper after run-quelling jumper every time it seemed like Greg Lansing’s club was ready to make a push.
The 83-69 win means that the Shockers will be undefeated on Selection Sunday.
And that undefeated record will guarantee them a No. 1 seed when the brackets are released exactly one week from this moment.
We can argue the merits of that No. 1 seed if you like, and my guess would be that at least half of Wichita State’s ample and passionate fan base would understand, and agree, with their detractors. The fact of the matter is that the Shockers have not played all that tough of a schedule. They beat Texas, who likely won’t make it out of the first weekend. They beat BYU and Tennessee, two teams that might not even get make it onto the right side of the bubble. The win at Alabama looked better on their schedule in November than it does on their resume in March.
And while they stormed their way through the Valley, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that this season just so happened to coincide with Creighton leaving the conference and the rest of the perennial contenders being down.
All of that is a fair critique.
But none of it is going to matter in a week.
Because ’0′ is a massive number. An undefeated record on Selection Sunday is something that we haven’t seen in 23 years, or the lifespan of a typical college senior, even one that redshirted a season. I’m not simply saying it should get Wichita State a No. 1 seed.
I’m telling you that it will.
Because what we haven’t mentioned yet is that the Shockers made the Final Four a season ago. That will lend some credibility and validity to this season’s record, even though it’s not supposed to. The people that fill out the bracket? The Selection Committee? They’re humans. They’re not machines. So when they look at Wichita State and they look at that undefeated record, it’s impossible not to think about what Gregg Marshall’s club accomplished a season ago.
That’s just the way it is.
The Shockers are going to be a No. 1 seed.
And they’re going to make a run at becoming college basketball’s first undefeated team since 1976.
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