Conference: Missouri Valley
Coach: Gregg Marshall
Record: 30-4, 17-1 (T-1)
Ratings and Rankings:
– Kenpom: 11
– RPI: 37
– AP/USA Today: 21/22
Seeding: The title of this article invokes Cinderella, but given Wichita State’s track record and strength, they don’t exactly fit that role. The Shockers’ resume also makes for a difficult seeding proposition for the committee because predictive measures – KenPom and Sagarin – love them while the RPI is more lukewarm. Look for the committee to split the difference and put the Shockers somewhere in the 7-10 range.
Names you need to know: Markis McDuffie, Landry Shamet and Darral Willis all average double figures while Conner Frankamp, a Kansas transfer, is shooting 44 percent from 3-point range. The stalwarts of Wichita State’s rise from mid-major program to national relevance like Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet may be gone, but the talent – and coach – is still in place to make the Shockers a formidable threat this month.
Stats you need to know: Wichita State is shooting 40.7 percent from 3-point range, which ranks sixth in the country. They’ve got four players shooting 38 percent or better on at least 65 3-point attempts this season. The Shockers are no slouches on defense either as they’re holding opponents to an effective field goal percentage of 44.2.
Big wins, bad losses: Here’s the problem for Wichita State. Most are pretty sure they’re pretty good, but looking solely at the W/L resume makes that murky. The Shockers will likely only have a win over an NCAA tournament participant if Illinois State, the team they beat in the MVC title game and split the regular season league championship with, gets an at-large bid. Wichita State’s losses have all been respectable, coming against Louisville, Michigan State, Oklahoma State and the Redbirds.
How’d they get here?: Unlike last year when the Shockers didn’t make the MVC tourney final, Wichita State had no problem earning the league’s autobid. They beat Bradley by 26, Missouri State by 15 and Illinois State by 20 in the title game.
Outlook: Wichita State is no Cinderella, even if they hail from a league that often produces them. This is a bona fide high-major program that plays in a mid-major league. The Shockers may have a difficult path, especially if they get slotted on that 8/9 line with a date against a top seed in Round 2, but they’ve got the talent and pedigree to make another multi-win appearance in the NCAA tournament.
How do I know you?: The Shockers have made the NCAA tournament every year since 2012, famously making the Final Four in 2013 and entering the Big Dance in 2014 undefeated, making them as recognizable a program outside the country’s biggest conferences as any.