Juniors Cleanthony Early and Nick Wiggins signed with Wichita State expecting to play in the NCAA Tournament. The details, they believed, would work themselves out.
So while neither player is the kind to monitor bracket projections, they will show up Sunday at a private team gathering ready to watch the selection show and start their part in the Big Dance.
“It’s something you dream about and something you watched when you were a kid,” Early said. “Now it’s here.”
The Shockers (26-8) are expected to earn one of 37 at-large spots in the 68-team field and make their 10th NCAA appearance. Inclusion will put them in the tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1987 and 1988.
As of Saturday, WSU’s resume appeared to place it as a No. 10 or No. 11 seed. According to CBSSports.com, WSU ranks No. 38 nationally in RPI with a 3-2 record against the top 50 and 5-3 against teams ranked 51-100. It did not lose to a team ranked lower than 200.
Those are just numbers to Wiggins, who isn’t the least bit concerned what ESPN’s Joe Lunardi or CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm think about WSU’s position in the bracket.
“I just wait until Sunday,” Wiggins said.
Early is just as uninterested in how the bracket is compiled.
“I don’t know how that works,” Early said. “People say we have a 97-percent chance to be in and a 3-percent chance we don’t. I don’t even know where the sites are. It doesn’t matter to me.”
All of that does matter to WSU coach Gregg Marshall, who expects to coach in his second NCAA Tournament with WSU and the ninth of his career. On Friday afternoon, his concern rested with schools jumping WSU in the seeding while he watched conference tournaments for rising and falling teams.
“I feel pretty good about it, but there’s a lot of things I don’t control at this point,” he said.
While it appears unlikely, WSU could drop to a No. 12 seed and be forced to travel to Dayton, Ohio for one of the First Four games on Tuesday or Wednesday.