Why Does Everyone Hate Wichita State?



The Wichita State Shockers just won their 30th game in a row to move to, yes, 30-0 on the season. Throw everything else in this post out the window; 30-0 is a great record. A team doesn't get to 30-0 without being very good, but it doesn't get to 30-0 without luck as well.

Wichita State had some luck in close games, as do all teams who win close games, and they certainly got lucky in that Creighton decided to bolt the MVC for the Big East this season.

The luck factor has been the one much more widely discussed this year, with the majority of Shocker bashers bashing their schedule. Making it worse for fans and writers who are behind Wichita's cause, there is somewhat of a point to be made there. The Shockers' non league schedule is ranked 105th in KenPom, and their schedule overall is ranked 134th. There's not much Wichita State can do about playing in the MVC, but it is worth noting that while Florida struggled with (admittedly not very good) Vanderbilt last night, that Vanderbilt team would be ranked second in the MVC according to KenPom. 

Even so, we have seen this act before. Last year, Gonzaga was a fairly criticized one seed (before, somewhat ironically, losing to Wichita State in the second round), but it never got to this point. Why?

Some of it, I think, is due to the coach. Gregg Marshall has the reputation of being somewhat, ahem, abrasive, and opposing fans (and some writers) not wanting him to have success certainly is in play here. He hasn't exactly made it easy on himself what with whining about how no one will play them, when he won't be a buy game or take a 2 for 1. While he may insist his program is above that, and it might be, what he insists is irrelevant compared to the situation in front of him. It is a bit devious to put all kinds of restrictions on the conditions under which you'll play a team, and then whine that no one will agree to play your team. 

The other reason (I hope) is that fans are responding to some dishonest analysis from national writers regarding Wichita State's body of work. Without calling anyone out specifically, it was mentioned on a prominent college basketball podcast that Wichita State should be commended for their win at St. Louis (which I totally agree with) but then added that (paraphrasing) "they've won all their tough road games. Michigan State hasn't done that, Syracuse hasn't done that, Duke hasn't done that, etc. etc." It's easy to tell how dishonest this is, but a good analogy would be saying that a pinch hitter who went 1-1 on the day is better than Mike Trout (or Miguel Cabrera, or whomever you want) going 10-30 in a stretch. Obviously if a team plays enough tough road games, they're going to lose some. Wichita State happened to win their only one; that doesn't mean they'd win the next one, or the one after.

Speaking of bad analysis, Wichita State's final four run gets referenced nearly every time they come up. It was a very impressive run, and they may in fact get there again, but if they do it will have nothing to do with last year's Final Four run. The Shockers had three Senior starters last year. If they get credit for a Final Four run, people should be falling all over themselves to make Louisville the national title favorite this year.

I'm not sure if either of these explanations is the answer to our query. I'm not sure if there is one. But if Wichita State does get a 1 (or even a 2) seed, a lot of people will be looking for them to lose early. Whether they make the Final Four or not shouldn't be the determining factor as to whether they are for real, but it will be, and that's unfair.

Of course, I tend to think they're around the 10th to 15th best team around, which is very good but a bit worse than 1-2 seed quality. So in this case, maybe being lucky is unlucky.