Wichita State cracks Kenpom’s early top five for 2017-18

Photo: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

You may have caught wind of my Twitter rant the other day that, if someone wanted to, they could very easily construct a solid argument that Wichita State deserves to be the preseason No. 1 for the 2017-18 season and should for sure be top five.

Well, statistical hoops guru Ken Pomeroy agrees — at least with the top five part. Pomeroy released his early top 10 for next season, and his algorithm has the Shockers as No. 5.

Here’s what he had to say about the Shockers:

Ahead of the Shockers are Gonzaga a No. 4, Kentucky at No. 3, Arizona at No. 2, and Villanova at No. 1. That last one is a bit surprising as the Wildcats lose a pair of stars in Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins.

Keep in mind coaching changes, players going pro, transfers, spring recruiting signings and even remaining performances this season can affect who’s in the Kenpom preseason top 10 in the fall.

Duke is noticeably absent from the top 10, but Pomeroy is assuming anyone in DraftExpress’ first round is going pro. So that means no Luke Kennard or Harry Giles next year. I could see both guys leaving or staying, and even without them I think Duke would be a top five team.

If I was making preseason rankings for next year I would go, in order: Arizona, Gonzaga, Wichita State, Kentucky and Duke.

Once the Shockers found its groove near the end of January, they were one of college basketball’s most dominant teams. After being ranked No. 28 in Kenpom 19 games into the season, Wichita State shot up to No. 5 by its NCAA Tournament first road game against Dayton.

The Shockers fell just shy of knocking off No. 2 seed Kentucky in the second round Sunday, and now they return everyone.

Now, things can change. Gregg Marshall could always leave for an open high-major job such as Indiana. That would be a big enough blow on its own, but the damage could pile on if his players were to transfer elsewhere.

But as it stands now, next year’s Wichita State team looks like the best in Marshall’s tenure and possibly the best in program history.

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