▪ How to survive the next 19 days.
The NCAA Tournament reveals its field on March 12. This is a tough time for Wichita State fans. Their team wins big, yet is not considered a lock to be one of 36 at-large teams in the field.
The source of their frustration is this:
In 2013, No. 9 seed WSU defeated No. 8 Pitt, No. 1 Gonzaga, and No. 2 Ohio State.
In 2015, No. 7 seed WSU defeated No. 2 Kansas.
In 2016, No. 11 seed WSU defeated No. 11 seed Vanderbilt and No. 6 seed Arizona.
So you can understand that WSU fans (and coach Gregg Marshall) have reason to look skeptically at the system that seeds the Shockers.
That past history, however, is not part of WSU’s current resume.
▪ Teams to root for: Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, Middle Tennessee State, Texas-Arlington, Butler, Creighton, Dayton, VCU, all favorites. The Shockers need solid NCAA Tournament teams to stay that way and win conference tournaments.
For example, Creighton plays Providence on Wednesday. The Shockers don’t need Providence to finish the season strong and strengthen their position.
▪ Who to root against: Providence, TCU, Alabama, Mississippi, Syracuse, Georgia Tech and the like. Any Power 5 school with 10 losses needs a few more from a Shocker perspective.
▪ Avoid social media.
You know how it ends — with somebody telling you the Shockers don’t play anybody.
▪ Stop asking Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com if the Shockers are in. He has the MVC as a one-bid conference, which isn’t outlandish.
It’s worth remembering that Palm wasn’t high on the Shockers last season. He did have them No. 11 in his final bracket, which is where they landed.
You can Tweet him all you want. He’s not changing his position and I suspect he enjoys the back and forth. He has the Shockers as one of his first four out, which is progress. Like last season, if WSU keeps winning its resume improves while other teams fade.
I generally enjoy Palm’s views, but he is a bit too dismissive of the eye test. We know selection committee members are assigned conferences, watch games and discuss. The eye test can’t be the only factor working in a team’s favor, but it can be an asset. WSU has to hope quantity of victories and no bad losses is enough to convince people their look is worthy.
▪ If you’re a glutton for punishment, read this story from USA Today last year.
Saint Mary’s went 27-5 last season and had an RPI rank of No. 38 on Selection Sunday and didn’t get in. A strength of schedule ranked No. 148 hurt. WSU’s is No. 154 this season.
WSU, however, was more ambitious with its non-conference schedule. How will the committee look at the fact the Shockers tried to test themselves to a significant degree?
▪ As for tonight’s game, the Shockers can make their assignment much easier if they keep Aces guard Jaylon Brown off the foul line. He is 47 of 51 from the line in his past six games.
at No. 25 Wichita State
- When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
- Where: Koch Arena
- Records: UE 14-15, 5-11 MVC, WSU 25-4, 15-1
- Radio: 103.7-FM
- TV: Cox 2022
- Online: ESPN3.com (blackouts apply)
at No. 25 Wichita State
Evansville: (14-15, 5-11): Brown leads the MVC in scoring and is on track to keep that title at Evansville for a fourth straight season. D.J. Balentine won it the previous three. … The Aces led Bradley by 14 points with 14:02 to play before losing 84-72. Bradley made 13 of its final 20 shots while the Aces missed 13 of 17. … Evansville shoots 71.7 percent from the foul line and has attempted 669, most in the MVC. … The Aces can finish anywhere from sixth to 10th in the MVC.
Wichita State (25-4, 15-1): The Shockers defeated the Aces 82-65 on Jan. 17 after trailing by 13 points in the first half. WSU made 11 of 19 three-pointers. Shaq Morris scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. … WSU’s scoring margin of 19.3 points ranks second nationally behing Gonzaga (23.7). The MVC record is 22, set by Cincinnati in 1959-60. … McDuffie averaged 12.5 points and 7 rebounds while shooting 70 percent from the field in two games last week.
RPIs as of Tuesday: UE 195, WSU 42