Wichita State is the latest in a long line of recent Cinderellas that have played their way into the Final Four.
It started with George Mason in 2006, when the Patriots made a run to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed. It continued in 2011, when No. 11 seed VCU reached the Final Four along with No. 8 seed Butler, the second time in as many years that the Bulldogs would reach the national title game.
But the difference with these Shockers is that they’re not a random mid-major program that happened to get hot at the right time.
Wichita State is a good basketball team. They were 15-1 at one point this season. They were ranked as high as 15th at one point this season.
But they don’t like looking at themselves that way
“It’s interesting, our team, the coaching staff, we’ve talked, we’re better all year long when we’re the underdog, when nothing is expected,” Marshall said on today’s Final Four teleconference.
It’s ironic, really. Wichita State has been better when they’re the hunter this season, not when they’re the hunted.
It started at the beginning of the year, when not much was expected out of this team. They had lost their starting five from a season ago and were more-or-less an afterthought in the Missouri Valley, a league Creighton was picked to win.
They were 9-0 and in the top 15 when they lost to Tennessee. They were 23rd when they lost to Evansville in their fourth league game. And right when they were on the precipice of climbing back into the Final Four, they lost again, this time dropping three in a row and five of their last 10 regular season games.
“This team has done better when nothing has been expected, when they’re the underdogs, which we’ll clearly be on Saturday,” Marshall said.
Maybe Wichita State has Louisville right where they want them.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.