Wichita State was rewarded for its 34-0 season with a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament’s Midwest Region. The Shockers, who also advanced to last year’s Final Four, will face the winner of a play-in game between Cal Poly and Texas Southern.
However, the Shockers’ path to make a second straight Final Four is as difficult as anyone’s. Gregg Marshall’s club could have to face No. 8 seed Kentucky in the Round of 32. The Wildcats are loaded with talent but have struggled to put the pieces together. After a strong performance at the SEC Tournament, Kentucky might finally be starting to click.
If favorites win out in the opening weekend (which, as any college basketball fan knows, is far from a guarantee), Wichita State would face No. 4 seed Louisville in the Sweet 16. The Cardinals are the defending champions and have been one of the nation’s most dominant teams in recent weeks.
Then, the Shockers would have to face probably either No. 2 seed Michigan or No. 3 seed Duke in the Elite Eight. Both teams have been ranked in the top 10 and made their conference tournament championship games last week.
Wichita State has proven it can beat anybody, but it will be tested on a new level this month.
Two other MVC schools will play in the postseason.
Indiana State, which finished second in the Valley, will play in the NIT as a No. 6 seed. The Sycamores will travel to No. 3 seed Arkansas for a first-round game Tuesday. The Sycamores struggled with three straight losses at the end of the regular season, but they nearly earned the MVC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in a hard-fought loss to Wichita State.
Illinois State will play in the CBI. The Redbirds finished the regular season tied for fourth place in the Valley but lost their first conference tournament game to Missouri State. They will host Morehead State on Wednesday.
Missouri State will host Murray State in the CIT.