I’m not taking anything away from what Wichita State has done this season. Going undefeated is something that should be celebrated, and is the true definition of dominance. But, what people forget is that who you dominate carries just as much weight.
Compared to what other teams competing for a No. 1 seed have done, the Shockers have basically played a bunch of high school teams this season. According to CBS, Wichita State has played 20 games this season against teams outside the RPI top 100. In combination with everything else they have done, the Shockers have produced a strength of schedule ranked 110th. I can’t even list 110 Division 1 schools.
Being undefeated is great, but no favor should be given to the Shockers just because they are a Cinderella story, both in the seedings and the predictions. We have to look at the body of work of everyone competing for a No. 1 seed or, in Wichita State’s case, the lack of a body of work.
Going 25-5 and losing road games to top 50 teams shouldn’t be seen as a negative. It should be seen as a team and a coach who wanted to challenge themselves during the regular season to make sure they are fully prepared for the NCAA tournament. Moreover, seedings should reflect more of what you have done lately, meaning the abysmal conference schedule plays an every bigger role for the Shockers.
Wichita State is a good team, but they are far from great. Gonzaga taught us last year that playing sub-par competition all season long before being thrown into the fire that is the NCAA tournament, exposes your weaknesses. Has no one realized that the Shockers tallest contributing player is 6 feet 8 inches? Shooting 3-pointers looks great during the regular season, but it doesn’t win championships. People never remember what you did before March. What will fans and the media think about Shockers head coach Gregg Marshall and his team if they get a No. 1 seed, then bow out in the first or second round to a supposed “under-dog?”
There are five schools currently in the NCAA that would go undefeated with ease in the Missouri Valley Conference. Florida, Arizona, Kansas, Duke and Syracuse would all blow through the Shocker’s conference, and would likely do so in even more dominating fashion. The only thing holding those schools back from going undefeated the entire regular season would be those premier programs choosing to play a nonconference schedule with teams that can run and talk at the same time. I don’t mean to disrespect DePaul, Tennessee State or William and Mary, but when those are some of the better teams you have played in your non-conference, you haven’t really done anything. In fact, Wichita State played Emporia State (Division 2) in their first game of the year, and it wasn’t an exhibition. I didn’t even know that was allowed.
The Shockers went undefeated. That deserves a pat on the back, and that’s about it. Not only should Wichita State not be a No. 1 seed, they should probably be more like No. 3 or 4 seed. Unfortunately, the hype and uneducated panel will likely elect the Shockers one of the top seeds. While this isn’t ideal, it will at least provide the Shockers with a No. 1 vs. No. 16 matchup, which will be one of the tougher opponents Wichita State will have played all year.
David Embers is a junior in biology. Please send comments to email@example.com.