Kansas’ basketball state is peaking.
All three of the state’s NCAA Division I schools are ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since the 1964-65 preseason poll. No. 3 Wichita State led the way that season, followed by No. 8 Kansas State and No. 18 Kansas.
On Monday, No. 23 WSU (14-1) joined No. 6 Kansas (12-1) and No. 18 Kansas State (12-2) in week 10 of the current poll.
Indiana — with No. 5 Indiana, No. 14 Butler and No. 17 Notre Dame — also has three schools ranked.
The 1964-65 preseason poll foreshadowed a memorable season for the Shockers, but not the other two. WSU, in its first season under coach Gary Thompson, won the Missouri Valley Conference and advanced to the Final Four. Kansas, in coach Ted Owens’ first season, finished second in the Big Eight and did not play in the postseason. K-State, coached by Tex Winter, finished in a tie for sixth in the Big Eight.
The 1964-65 Shockers peaked at No. 1 in the Dec. 15 poll before losing to No. 2 Michigan. They fell out of the AP poll, which only ranked 10 during the regular season, in late February.
This season, a five-game win streak pushed Wichita State back into the top 25.
The Shockers are one of seven 14-win teams in the nation. Their four road wins are the most of any of that group.
WSU coach Gregg Marshall knows the ranking is important for his players. He also knows it’s not easy for an MVC team to earn that recognition.
“I think they deserve to be ranked,” he said. “We, at this level in the Valley, have to overcome so much. That’s hard, when you get into this 18-game grind. I’m sure we’ll lose a game in the next week or two and be knocked right back out of it.”
Marshall said sophomore guard Evan Wessel is leaning toward season-ending surgery on his broken right pinky. Wessel has missed seven games while unsuccessfully trying to play with the injury. Wessel can apply for a medical hardship as long as he does not practice or play after the first half of the season. The game at Evansville on Sunday marks the start of the second half of the season.
“Surgery looks like it’s imminent for him,” Marshall said.
Wessel started WSU’s first eight games and averaged 5.5 points and 1.8 rebounds.
The Shockers play Southern Illinois (7-7, 0-3 MVC) on Wednesday at Koch Arena. Marshall expects the Salukis to get a boost from facing a ranked team.
“Southern Illinois and Evansville, they get a chance to beat a ranked team,” Marshall said.
Earlier this season, WSU peaked at No. 23 in the poll before a loss at Tennessee dropped the Shockers. WSU spent two weeks in the poll after debuting at No. 24 on Dec. 3.
The Shockers have yet to crack the USA Today coaches poll this season. They received 47 points from the 31 coaches who vote, ranking them No. 27. No. 25 Wyoming has 70 points.
Creighton leads ticket sales — Creighton has sold 4,000 all-session passes for the MVC Tournament in St. Louis, as of Jan. 1.
That total tops last season’s mark of 2,575 for Creighton. The MVC has sold 6,929 to its 10 schools, the most sold by Jan. 1 since fans purchased 7,209 in 2008.
WSU fans purchased 1,019, second most. Northern Iowa (410) and Illinois State (400) are next.
|1. Duke (62)||14-0||1,622||1|
|2. Michigan (3)||15-0||1,553||2|
|15. Ohio St.||11-3||710||8|
|16. San Diego St.||12-2||591||19|
|17. Notre Dame||13-1||547||21|
|18. Kansas St.||12-2||472||25|
|20. NC State||12-2||438||23|
|22. Michigan St.||12-3||267||18|
|23. Wichita St.||14-1||135||_|
|25. New Mexico||13-2||102||20|
Others receiving votes: VCU 94, Wyoming 87, Oklahoma St. 64, Marquette 41, UCLA 41, Maryland 29, Kentucky 27, Temple 13, Oregon 11, North Carolina 4, Pittsburgh 1.