Wichita State’s Final Four celebration will extend into the fall and fans around the country can watch on ESPN.
WSU plans on greeting the network’s cameras for Shocker Madness on Oct. 18 to broadcast the ring ceremony and men’s scrimmage at Koch Arena. While associate athletic director John Brewer cautions that TV plans often change, he is confident an ESPN network (likely ESPN2 or ESPNU) will include the Shockers in their coverage of college basketball events that evening.
He said Syracuse and Oklahoma State will also be included.
“I feel very good about it,” he said. “ESPN reached out to us. ESPN intends to be here for the ring ceremony and men’s scrimmage.”
Shocker Madness, as usual, will also include the women’s team, which will celebrate its Missouri Valley Conference title and NCAA Tournament berth. The evening begins with a volleyball match against Bradley at 6 p.m. Brewer hopes the meshing of three sports and last season’s success will push attendance past its usual ceiling of around 3,500.
“There’s no reason we shouldn’t have a full arena,” he said.
The festivities won’t stop there. The issue of unfurling the Final Four banner remains. Brewer said WSU is deciding between an exhibition game in early November (opponent and date to be determined) and the Nov. 12 game against Western Kentucky, which tips off at midnight on ESPN2.
“We don’t have anything finalized,” Brewer said. “The idea is, do we wait until we have that ESPN presence to drop it? Or do we do it early on and not have it still hanging there for our first two games?”
Wichita State, which had hoped to play a game at Dallas’ American Airlines Arena to open the season, will instead open its season against Emporia State on Nov. 9. Brewer does not expect to drop the banner during that game.
That leaves one question remaining in the non-conference schedule. The organizers of the CBE Classic are scrambling to fill a spot. WSU will play Buffalo at Koch Arena on Nov. 16. It plays DePaul on Nov. 25 in Kansas City, Mo., and either Texas or BYU on Nov. 26. The CBE owes WSU another home game, likely scheduled before Buffalo.
It planned on sending Canisius to WSU, senior associate athletic director Darron Boatright said. Canisius, however, opted to play in the Preseason NIT. Boatright said WSU’s contract with the CBE guarantees four NCAA Division I opponents.
“That threw them into a little bit of a tizzy,” Boatright said. “They’re working now to put someone else in that slot.”
The Missouri Valley Conference schedule is in the hands of the schools for a final check, according to MVC associate commissioner Jack Watkins, and could be released early next week. The TV schedule will likely take another two weeks to settle, he said.
WSU’s game against Emporia State will tip off in the afternoon. The Shockers play Illinois State in volleyball at 7 p.m. on Nov. 9.
That game highlights a busy weekend at Koch Arena. The women’s basketball team plays Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne at 12:05 p.m. on Nov. 8, followed by a volleyball match against Indiana State at 7 p.m.