Since Selection Sunday, the Wichita State Shockers have been one of the biggest storylines for the 2017 NCAA tournament, and it has everything to do with the No. 10 seed they “earned.” Nonetheless, the Shockers will take on No. 7 Dayton Flyers in the first round of the Big Dance.
First things first, let’s talk Wichita State hoops.
The Shockers are coming off of a 30-4 season. Not only that, but they have won 15 games in a row. They haven’t lost a game since January 14. Given those figures, plenty of people might be scratching their heads, wondering why Wichita State didn’t earn a better seed. Folks, you are not alone. Many people think the NCAA tournament committee got Wichita State’s seed wrong.
While Gregg Marshall’s squad only has four blemishes on its schedule, three of the four losses came against fellow NCAA tournament teams (Louisville Cardinals, Michigan State Spartans, and Oklahoma State Cowboys). Those, clearly, are not bad losses — that’s not the problem. The problem lies in the fact that the Shockers, a team that has done some serious damage during March Madness in recent memory, are lacking in quality wins.
The Shockers deserved much better than a No. 10 seed, and now the rest of the field has to pay the price — well, if they can get past Dayton first, that is.
With all of that in mind, and whether they were seeded correctly or not, the Shockers will take on a very tough test in the Flyers.
Dayton enters the Big Dance with a No. 7 seed thanks to a 24-7 record, and said 24-7 record consisted of back-to-back losses to end the season. While the Flyers were one-and-done in their conference tournament (side note: Wichita State won its conference tourney), they did win the Atlantic 10 regular season title. They are also making their fourth NCAA tournament appearance in a row.
While the Flyers lost their first game of the dance last season, they won two tournament games in 2015, and three the year before. While Wichita State has been the talk of the town, head coach Archie Miller is no stranger to runs in the dance.
Of course, the Shockers got on the map by making a run to the Final Four in 2013. In no way is Wichita State a one-hit wonder, though. After all, this team won two games during March Madness last year, and two the year before.
It’s a shame that two rather notable mid-majors, mid-majors that have shown they are capable of madness in the Big Dance, have to play each other right off the bat.
Meanwhile, the Kentucky Wildcats, assuming they take care of business in their first tourney game against No. 15 seed Northern Kentucky Norse, can’t be too excited about their second-round matchup. Yes, Kentucky has all of the talent in the world (they received the No. 2 seed for a reason), but No. 2 seeds aren’t supposed to play a team like Wichita State or Dayton in just the second contest of the dance.
The Shockers might be getting all of the attention right now, and they might be the favorites in this contest despite the fact that Dayton has the better seed, but this Flyers team brings plenty to the table, such as senior leadership. That alone could take them far in the 2017 NCAA tournament.
If Wichita State can’t even make it out of the first round alive, then its seed might be a little more appropriate, or it might drive fans insane since this team arguably should have had a better seed in the first place, which would have resulted in it not playing a team like Dayton right off the bat.
Nonetheless, this is one of the most intriguing games of the first round, and although Kentucky will likely be waiting in the second round, no one should be surprised if the Dayton-Wichita State winner makes it to the second weekend of the tourney.
[Featured Image by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images]