Undefeated

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Wichita State will head into the NCAA tournament 34-0 as a No. 1 seed

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34-0.

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.

PHOTO: Epic typo on Wichita State’s MVC title shirts

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.

RELATED: Regardless of your opinion, appreciate the run Wichita State is making.

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.

MORE: Get to know all of the NCAA tournament’s automatic bids

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.

No. 2 Wichita State improves to 33-0, moves to Missouri Valley title game

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Cleanthony Early scored 20 points to lead No. 2 Wichita State to a 67-42 rout of Missouri State in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley tournament.

The Shockers improve to 33-0 on the season with the victory, one game away from heading into Selection Sunday with an unblemished record. They will play the winner of Indiana State-Southern Illinois at 1:05 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.

Missouri State came closer than anyone to beating Wichita State this season, blowing a 19-point lead in an overtime loss back in January. Saturday’s game came without Jamar Gulley, however.

The Shockers used a 17-0 first half run to blow the game open, hitting five of their eight first half threes, and they put the game away with a 24-0 run in the second half.

The last time Wichita State won the Missouri Valley tournament was way back in 1987.

No. 6 Wichita State needs 19-point comeback and overtime to get to 17-0

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The odds of No. 6 Wichita State making it to March undefeated just got a little bit better.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d still bet everything I own against the Shockers making it through the Valley unscathed. You don’t make it through the Valley unscathed. You just don’t.

But if anyone is going to do it, it’s going to be this Wichita State team in this Missouri Valley, which is in a real down year. And their path got just that much easier on Saturday night, as Gregg Marshall’s club went into Springfield and knocked off Missouri State, 72-69, in overtime.

The Bears are one of the most talented teams in the league this season and — along with Indiana State and Northern Iowa — one of the toughest road environments that the Shockers will face this season. The Shockers survived, but it certainly wasn’t easy. Missouri State jumped out to a 42-24 lead at the half and pushed that lead to 54-35 with 12 minutes left in regulation.

That’s when Wichita State began their run, outscoring Missouri State 29-10 over that stretch to force the extra frame. Cleanthony Early led the way with 22 points and 14 boards, while Fred VanVleet finished with 16 points and four assists in an off night. Ron Baker chipped in with 15 points.

Wichita State is now 17-0. They hold Bradley and Indiana State next week and visit Illinois State and Drake the week after that. In fact, the Shockers may not truly be tested like this again for another four weeks, when they visit both Indiana State and Northern Iowa in the span of four days.

What’s with all the ‘Kentucky’s undefeated season’ talk?

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Maybe it’s because it’s August and there isn’t much else to talk about, and maybe it’s because anything written about Kentucky on the internet is sure to garner clicks, but it seems as if Kentucky going undefeated in 2013-2014 has become a thing that everyone is talking about.

Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com said he thinks Kentucky will go 40-0 on Kentucky Sports Radio last week. Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News and Nicole Auerbach of USA Today both penned responses that more or less list the hurdles that the Wildcats will have to clear to make it that far.

The guy that started all of this?

Well, John Calipari.

“We’re chasing perfection. We’re chasing greatness. We’re chasing things that have never been done in the history of our game,” Calipari said during a May news conference. “I don’t mind a little pressure. I’ve had it my whole career. I’ve had the gun to my head for 20-something years. And you know what? I’m at my best when the gun is to my head.”

And frankly, the chatter isn’t unwarranted. Kentucky has seven or eight guys that could end up being first round picks whenever they enter the NBA Draft, which is as much talent as we’ve seen on one team in recent memory. They also happen to play in the SEC, which is a league that offers up just one other team — Florida — that has a real shot of being a Final Four team. If Jeronne Maymon can’t get healthy, Missouri’s newcomers don’t mesh with their returnees, and LSU doesn’t live up to some of their offseason hype, there’s a chance that UK and UF are the only two tournament teams in the league.

That makes for an easy stretch run, doesn’t it?

But there are a couple of things to remember here:

1. There’s a reason no one has gone undefeated since 1976: It’s not an easy thing to do, especially for a team that’s essentially made up of freshmen and unproven sophomores. Every single game that Kentucky plays this season will be the biggest game of the year for whoever they are playing. It’s been like that since John Calipari arrived in Lexington, but that a) doesn’t make the process any easier and b) has nothing to do with the crop of newcomers coming to campus this season.

2. Michigan State is going to be really good: Trips to North Carolina and Florida are going to be tough games to win, and beating the defending national champs in Rupp is not going to be an easy thing to do, but I’d say that the most difficult game on Kentucky’s schedule this season will be their November 12th matchup with the Spartans in the Champions Classic. The Spartans are not only a top five team in the country and a favorite to win the Big Ten and make the Final Four, but they are a veteran group whose core has been together for a couple of years now. They’ve been through the ringer together. They also happen to have arguably the best game-planner in the country in Tom Izzo.

Kentucky is young. This will be the first time that this group of freshmen is playing on a college game on national TV against a team that’s any good. It will be at the United Center, and will be the third game that the Cats play in a five-day stretch. That’s a tough matchup that early in the season.

3. Are there enough shots to go around?: I’ve said this time and again, but the single biggest concern I have for Kentucky this season is that there may simply be too much talent on this roster. The reason that the 2012 team was so good was that their two best players — the top two picks in the 2012 NBA Draft — were essentially glorified role players. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis didn’t need to get a certain number of shots. They defended and they hustled and they set the tone for that team.

And this year’s group has more talent than the 2012 team. No one can convince a star to play a role like Coach Cal can, but this will be his toughest job to date.

Honestly, I hope that Kentucky makes a run at going undefeated. How much fun will their matchup with Florida to end the regular season be with a perfect regular season on the line? Imagine a Final Four with Kentucky playing Duke or Louisville with an undefeated record on the line. That’d be awesome.

It’s not often that we see history in sports, and that’s fun for fans (and for writers!!!), but if we’re being completely honest, I think that 40-0 is going to be much more difficult to achieve that Big Blue Nation realizes.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.