Wichita State entered the tournament with the pressure of being the team that every single media member said got screwed.
And they did.
Don’t forget that.
The Shockers, who, at this very moment, are sixth in KenPom’s rankings, entered the NCAA tournament as a 30-4 No. 10 seed that was favored by six points over the No. 7 seed that had won the outright Atlantic 10 regular season title. They were wronged, and the only way that we’re going to get the Selection Committee to fix the process that wrong them is to continually shame them for it.
And the Shockers helped us out with that, as they pulled away from the Flyers in the second half of a 64-58 win, advancing to take on, in all likelihood, No. 2 seed Kentucky in the second round of the tournament.
It wasn’t pretty on Friday night, as the Shockers shot under 40 percent from the floor, Dayton barely cracked 30 percent and the two teams combine for 39 fouls, but it was as fun and as intense as you would expect from a game involving these two programs. Landry Shamet led the way with 13 points and three assists, doing his best to help slow down Scoochie Smith in the second half; Smith finished with 25 points.
But the real story coming out of this game is what happens moving forward, because the Shocker’s potential matchup with No. 2 seed Kentucky is loaded with so many story lines that I can barely handle it. It starts with The Malik Monk Show, because who doesn’t love seeing a player of that caliber go crazy in the sport’s biggest stage.
There’s more to it than that, though. Three years ago, when Wichita State was No. 1 in the country and sitting at 35-0 in the second round, the Shockers were screwed over again by the Selection Committee, getting slotted into a Region of Death and drawing No. 8 seed Kentucky in the second round. Kentucky ended that perfect season en route to the national title game.
This year, Wichita State has a chance to return the favor in a game where, as a No. 10 seed, they may only end up being a one or two point underdog.
And should we mention Gregg Marshall and the Indiana job?
We probably should mention Gregg Marshall and the Indiana job.
Marshall has been one of the most sought-after coaches in the country for years, but he has yet to bite on any high-major opening. Indiana is a job that he may actually say yes to … if it gets offered.
And that’s a story line that is going to hang over the head of this Shocker team for as long as they remain a part of this tournament.