Gregg Marshall is one of five coaches that have won at least one game in the last five NCAA Tournaments, elite territory that includes Kansas' Bill Self, Gonzaga's Mark Few, North Carolina's Roy Williams and Oregon's Dana Altman.
Trying to persuade a friend to not pick against the fourth-seeded Shockers (25-7) when they play 13th-seeded Marshall (24-10) at 12:30 p.m. Friday in San Diego? Pointing to WSU's 5-0 record the last five years in its first games in the NCAA Tournament should help.
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So why are the Shockers so good in their opening-round games? Marshall thinks it is the same reason WSU leads the nation in road winning percentage and total road wins the last four seasons.
"We probably have 40 different things we can do on an offensive set and it's hard to prepare for that if you're not familiar with it and it's hard to become familiar with it," Marshall said. "Our style isn't blow-your-mind unique, but our offense is hard to guard when you haven't seen it or haven't played against it."
Marshall has a 10-6 record in the NCAA Tournament the last six years with six victories as the lower-seeded team, the most in the country during that time span.
While the Shockers won't encounter a higher-seeded team in San Diego, Marshall's track record of success gives players added confidence.
"We're hard to scout because we have 11 guys where any one of them can be the breakout player," WSU senior Rashard Kelly said. "We have a scheme for everything. We have a great coaching staff and we have a counter to any type of weapon you want to throw at us."
While it's true WSU has delivered good offensive performances in first-round wins over Pittsburgh (2013), Cal Poly (2014), Indiana (2015), Vanderbilt (2016) and Dayton (2017), all of those wins came when the team had nearly two weeks off after playing in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.
Since joining the American Athletic Conference, the Shockers played for the first time in the second week of March and won't have an extra week of rest this year after playing its last game Saturday against Houston in the AAC tournament semifinals.
"We still have six days to prepare, which is basically a week," WSU guard Landry Shamet said. "As far as the rest or rust thing, I think we'll be feeling just fine. It's definitely different, but I think we'll be good."
Another common thread between those five wins were great defensive performances. In the last five years, WSU has held its opening-round opponent to an average of 55.2 points and 0.83 points per possession. The Shockers have won those games by an average margin of 15.2 points.
But all five of those WSU defenses were ranked in the top-30 of Ken Pomeroy's adjusted defensive efficiency metric. This season the Shockers have plummeted to No. 109 in the country, their lowest ranking since 2009 when they finished 17-17 in Marshall's second season.
This year's defense is failing to force turnovers (No. 291 nationally) and generate steals (No. 324 nationally), and it's giving up too many threes (No. 273 nationally) and allowing opponents to make them (No. 247 nationally) at a higher clip.
While this WSU team has its flaws, it also has its strengths and Marshall's track record of first-round success might be the biggest.
"You've got to start playing your best basketball and we haven't done that yet," Marshall said. "We know that it's out there. We've gotten close at times, but now it's time to peak and start playing your best basketball and that's what it takes. If do that, then we'll have an opportunity to make a deep run."