Last week I wrote a column about why Wichita State didn’t deserve a No. 1 seed. In my opinion, Wichita State was a great team that failed to play equal competition to that of some of the other top teams in the country. I felt they deserved a No. 2 seed, much like Kansas and Syracuse. Unfortunately, the selection committee didn’t read my explanation, and went ahead and awarded the Shockers the top seed in the Midwest region.
After a 27-point beat down of Cal Poly on Friday, Wichita State was set to matchup with Kentucky in the round of 32 on Sunday. It was the dream scenario for Shocker fans and media alike.
Kentucky was, quite possibly, the most talented team in the country. According to rivals.com, the Wildcats had four five-star recruits of the six on their roster. In my opinion, at least five of those players will be playing on NBA teams next season. Conversely, Wichita State had zero top recruits. In a press conference prior to Sunday’s game, Shockers head coach Gregg Marshall stated that Wichita State didn’t even bother pursuing any of the high profile players on Kentucky’s roster because “that’s a different level of recruiting.” Wichita State had players who got three college offers, playing against some that got as many as 30.
Even still, the Shockers were believed to be the better team. The back and forth battle started from the opening tip, and lasted all 40 minutes.
In the end, the Wildcats won 78-76, and Wichita State’s perfect season was no more. It was the best tournament game we may have seen this year by far. Unfortunately, one team had to go home a loser. This time, it was Marshall and his dream squad. From the loss, the critics (like me) came out of the woodwork. Fans called them frauds. Media members frantically typed columns about how the Shockers were overrated. Everyone had an opinion.
So, here’s mine.
The label of “overrated” stems from what your rating system truly is. Wichita State, according to the selection committee, was a top four team in the country. The final AP poll prior to the tournament had the Shockers at No. 2. After the conclusion of the season, the Shockers will likely finish the season ranked outside the top 10 after their second round loss. So, in that sense, they were overrated.
However, that is playing the literal game. Anyone that watched the Kentucky game knows that the Wildcats played much better than a normal No. 8 seed. Statistically, Kentucky played the best game of their season, by far. The Wildcats scored 0.3 points per possession more than their season average. Wichita State shot approximately 55 percent from the field, was 10-21 from 3-point range, and only had nine turnovers … AND STILL LOST! What we saw were Kentucky players who had underwhelmed all season long, suddenly playing up to their potential.
We’ve seen this storyline so many times. During March Madness, things don’t follow a script. We can try to predict every game and analyze every facet, but in the end, it’s all for naught. Wichita State put together a performance that, 99 percent of the time, ends in a victory. But on Sunday, the 1 percent prevailed. Wichita State was not overrated, they were just a victim of the Madness.
David Embers is a junior in biology. Please send comments to email@example.com.