For the first time in 20 seasons, Gregg Marshall might not be watching the Selection Sunday show at home.
Marshall has become accustomed to the benefits of playing in the first week of March during his stint at Winthrop in the Big South and for the last decade at Wichita State in the Missouri Valley.
"I would much rather be done now and get this whole week to rest your bodies and get right mentally," Marshall said.
Instead, Marshall and No. 11 Wichita State (24-6) will open the American Athletic Conference tournament in Orlando on Friday at 6 p.m. against Temple (17-14) with the broadcast on ESPNU.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Wichita Eagle
If WSU advances to the tournament championship game, which will be played Sunday at 2:30 p.m. on CBS, then Marshall and the Shockers will await their fate in the NCAA Tournament in a room prepared for them at the Amway Center before flying back to Wichita.
"I'm not sure I like it," Marshall said. "We had so many days off and we prolonged the regular season, so we could play in this deal this week. We're not going to have much turnaround time."
Those are concerns of the future.
For now, WSU's complete attention is on Temple, a team it split with during the regular season. The Owls rallied to win in overtime in Philadelphia, then put WSU in a 14-point halftime deficit before the Shockers rallied for a 93-86 win at Koch Arena on Feb. 15.
Marshall gave players two days off following last Sunday's regular-season finale against Cincinnati before reconvening for a short practice on Wednesday. WSU practiced longer on Thursday, this time in Orlando, but did so without knowing its opponent (Temple defeated Tulane 82-77 late Thursday).
"It's amazing," Marshall said of potentially facing Temple in the quarterfinals. "It speaks to the depth of the league. That's a tough quarterfinal opponent, for sure."
Temple is a top-50 RPI team that will count as WSU's fifth top-tier victory if it wins on Friday. The Owls own wins over Auburn, Clemson, and WSU, but also losses against Tulane, Memphis, and Connecticut this season.
"They seem to be a Jekyll or Hyde team and we get the Hyde whenever we play those guys," Marshall said. "I have a ton of respect for their coach (Fran Dunphy) and their players get up for us. We've had two battles with them. They're a tough out."
Win or lose, the difference this season is that Marshall and the Shockers won't be sweating it out on Selection Sunday.
The Shockers have built one of the best post-season resumes in the Marshall Era, compiling a combined 14 tier one and two victories -- tied for third-most in the country. They have the potential to add three more in Orlando.
But this time, the season doesn't come down to the conference tournament.
"There were times (in the Missouri Valley) where you didn't really know," Marshall said. "We thought we were in, but we didn't really know. One year we were the last team in. So knowing that you're in, it's just a matter of trying to get your team to play at their peak this time of the year."