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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, September 26, 2023
Blake Duffin

Column: Wichita State deserves credit for the impressive season they had

The Wichita State Shockers had a season for the record books, going an incredible 32-0 in the regular season. This great run was topped with a Missouri Valley Conference win and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

All season long, skeptics declared that the Shockers were undeserving of their ranking because they were lacking strength in their schedule.

During WSU’s supposed “weak” non-conference schedule, the Shockers defeated four eventual NCAA tourney teams by an average of 15 points. Two of those teams advanced to the next round and one of them (Tennessee) still remains in the tourney.

In other words, based on tournament success, WSU beat two of the countries top-32 teams or four of the countries top-64 teams. They didn’t just scrape together these victories either. The Shockers pounded these teams by an average of 15 points.

Understandably, these may not be considered “glamour” victories against traditionally top-tier teams, but let’s face it, those are the exact teams that continue to lose to mid-major schools like WSU every single year in the tourney.

Michigan State, who is seemingly most people’s choice to win, has nearly the exact same non-conference results. They defeated four tourney teams; three of them advanced to the second round and one of them still remains in the tourney.

I understand that MSU plays a much, much stronger conference schedule, but based only on nonconference play, the Shockers proved to beat just about equal competition as the tournament’s favorite.

We could talk about the strength of each teams’ opponents, but isn’t what really matters is how the team is performing on the final stage?

Based on the success of their non-conference opponents in the ultimate test of the season, the NCAA tourney, these teams had almost identical success.

You can attempt to argue the strength Wichita State’s conference schedule, but what more could they have possibly done?

Not only did they not lose a single game in conference, but they also absolutely destroyed their competition. In their 21 games between their regular season conference schedule and the conference tourney, the Shockers only played in four games where they beat their opponent by less than double-digits. The rest of their wins were by 10 or more points, and many were by 20 or more points.

This brings us to Wichita State’s loss in the second round tourney to No. 8 seed Kentucky.

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Many people will argue the Shockers were overrated and that their accomplishments are nullified now that they lost to Kentucky, an “actually good” team.

The unfortunate fact of that game is that Wichita State got matched up with the team that has the most upwards potential in the country, and is now finally playing to their capabilities.

I don’t have to talk about the talent and prestige of the Kentucky program. This season they were a team that struggled and underperformed for the majority of the season, until about two weeks ago when we started to see a different team.

The young team has started playing together and proved what they were capable of after just falling short to the tourney’s number one overall seed, Florida, in the SEC championship.

It was nothing but an unlucky draw for the Shockers when they had to face a Kentucky team that has the ability to beat everyone in the country when playing at its best. That’s exactly what it did against WSU.

The Wildcats shot 54 percent from the field and were 44 percent from beyond the arc. That’s as good as they have shot all season long. At the same time, the Shockers shot 55 percent from the field. For the Wildcats to defeat Wichita State when they were shooting at such a high percentage speaks volumes to the talent and potential of the blossoming Kentucky squad.

Their loss can’t be attested to the Shockers’ abilities, but to the top-tier level of play the Kentucky team played at.

In the end, Wichita State is a team that shouldn’t need to prove itself. It made it to the Final Four last season, went the entire regular season this year undefeated and then unfortunately lost to possibly the most talented team in the country by two points.

Anyone who watched Wichita State this season can attest to the strength of the Shockers and the quality of basketball that they consistently played all year long.

WSU may not have reached its ultimate goal, but nonetheless had a great season that should not be overlooked.

How would you assess Wichita State’s season? Was their NCAA tournament performance a disappointment? Let Blake know what you think by emailing

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