Shockwaves

Day After: MVC Tournament

Northern Iowa and Wes Washpun play on after Saturday’s 57-52 win over Wichita State in the MVC Tournament semifinals.
Northern Iowa and Wes Washpun play on after Saturday’s 57-52 win over Wichita State in the MVC Tournament semifinals. The Wichita Eagle

There is no point to the usual rehashing the past 45 minutes, the lessons of which can be summed up in: 1) make shots and 2) execute to get good shots in crucial situations. The Shockers didn’t do either, for the most part, Saturday.

The issue, for Wichita State and the Missouri Valley Conference, is whether the Shockers become the second team in the past six seasons to win the regular-season title and not earn an at-large bid. This happened routinely in the early 1990s — ask Rich Herrin and Bob Bender — as the Valley sank to a low point.

The Shockers lost to Northern Iowa in the semifinals of the MVC tournament. It's the second time in a row they've lost to the Panthers and the second straight year they've been knocked out in the tournament semifinals.

That possibility is a disaster for WSU and for the MVC.

If you’re a basketball-centric conference and you can’t get your regular-season champion an at-large bid, you are wasting millions of dollars and many programs are flopping.

This was the case in 2011, when Missouri State and its No. 43 RPI rank went to the NIT. In 2011, the Valley had three schools in the top 100 of the RPI and four ranked below 200. This season, it is three in the top 100 and four 200 or below, two of them below 300.

This is all underlined by the fact nine of the 10 All-MVC pick are seniors. Can it get worse? It appears that is a possibility.

Why would WSU look at other conferences? This is one reason scenario that demonstrates why. It’s a tough way to run a basketball program when as many as 20 of your games can hurt the NCAA resume and most, if not all, are damaging to varying degrees.

This is the reality, one quite different from the happy talk at the MVC Coach of the Year luncheon on Thursday, where emcee Mitch Holthus trumpeted the “national champions” won by Loyola and Evansville in the CBI and CIT in 2015.

Here is how the Shockers compare (from CBSSports.com RPI) to some other teams in tough spots with the selection committee:

Team

vs. top 50

vs. 51-100

vs. 101-200

vs. 200 +

RPI

Record vs Division I opponents

Non-conference strength of schedule

Strength of schedule

Wichita State

1-4

3-3

8-1

11-0

47

23-8

12

106

St. Bonaventure

3-2

3-3

9-1

7-1

27

22-7

163

82

Michigan

3-9

0-2

7-0

9-0

68

19-11

188

60

Vanderbilt

2-7

5-3

9-2

3-0

48

19-12

25

29

Syracuse

4-6

4-3

5-2

6-1

60

19-12

110

39

Oregon State

6-8

4-3

2-0

5-0

31

17-11

55

7

George Washington

3-4

1-2

10-2

8-1

64

22-9

207

104

Butler

3-7

3-1

8-1

7-0

45

21-9

242

70

South Carolina

3-1

5-3

9-2

6-1

51

23-7

265

124

VCU

2-3

4-4

10-2

6-0

40

22-9

61

71

▪  Wichita State’s rank in the various statistical services. Ken Pomeroy continues to love the Shockers and that is a number the selection committee will look at it. According to Pomeroy, a team with that ranking should safely be in the tournament. In the past five seasons, No. 27 Iowa (2013) was the lowest ranked team left out of the field in the past five years.

RPI: No. 47

Ken Pomeroy: No. 10

ESPN’s Basketball Power Index: No. 24

Sagarin: No. 24

Nolan Power Index: No. 18

▪  It is either fascinating or frustrating to think about how manys Northern Iowa stuck a dagger in the Shockers this season.

The 53-50 win at Koch Arnea last month was the first step in unraveling WSU’s at-large resume.

Saturday’s win over the Shockers, of course, added to those problems.

UNI’s 2-6 stretch in January accomplished three things:

1. Removed it as a possible quality win from WSU’s resume. The Panthers are No. 79 in the RPI.

2. Made the two losses to UNI, if not bad losses, less than ideal.

3. Put the Panthers into the opposite side of the MVC Tournament bracket so the Shockers faced them in the semifinals instead of the final.

Had UNI merely gone 4-4 in that stretch it might be in the at-large conversation on the strength of wins over North Carolina and Iowa State. Certainly 5-3 helps that case immensely. Instead, the Panthers put themselves in position where losses to them hurt and wins are not worth as much as it appears they should be.

The Wichita Eagle's Paul Suellentrop and Bob Lutz discuss Wichita State's overtime loss to Northern Iowa in the MVC Tournament semifinals in St. Louis. (Tony Adame/The Wichita Eagle)

Shockers react after losing to Northern Iowa, 57-52 in MVC Tournament semifinals (Tony Adame/The Wichita Eagle)

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop

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