As the college basketball season begins to wind down, expect more and more of the conversation to be around the Wichita State Shockers. After Arizona lost it’s second game on the season in a 2OT thriller on Friday night to in-state rival Arizona State, the Shockers now look to head into the top-three in the AP and USA Today polls. However, with their current mark of 26-0 and the potential of going undefeated on the season, is Wichita State a lock for a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament? And if so, how far can they go.
The argument for Wichita State is that they are a team that went to the Final Four last season before losing by just four-points to the eventual champions, the Louisville Cardinals. With the 2013-2014 campaign in mind, the Shockers returned a talent-laden squad that boasts plenty of leadership from last seasons team.
Now for the argument against, and it’s a big one. The problem with Wichita State is the fact that they haven’t played anyone of note. Their undefeated record boasts no wins over any top-25 teams, which is a glairing mark for the selection committee come March. Granted the one good note for the Shockers is that, despite their weak schedule, they easily dismantle many of those squads and have only seen one game go into overtime this season.
Wichita State has five games left on the regular season. They play three on the road against Evansville, Loyola Illinois and Bradley. The Shockers have already beaten all three of these teams with 81-67, 57-45 and 72-50 scores, respectively. The two home games left on the season will be against a Drake squad that the Shockers beat 78-61 last time they played, and a season finale against Missouri State, who happens to be the team that took Wichita State to the 72-69 overtime game eluded to earlier.
It’s likely that if Wichita State is able to run the table and go undefeated, they’ll be a lock for a top seed in the tournament this year. But don’t forget that there are a few other one, or even two, loss teams that could arguably be a better fit for that spot due to a tougher strength of schedule. The real question may actually be what will happen if the Shockers don’t finish their season undefeated or if they don’t win the Missouri Valley Tournament. We will keep an eye out to see how much that potential situation could affect Wichita State stock.
Despite their undefeated record, the Shockers are only a 12/1 favorite to win the entire tournament. The biggest thing to factor in is the fact that this isn’t your Cinderella team that can surprise everyone by showing up to the big dance this year. Instead, They’ll be a VIP squad that has a huge target on their back every time they step on the court.
The next game for Wichita State is on Sunday, against Evansville.