We are over a month away from Selection Sunday and that means the mid-majors are under attack. But this year the mid-majors have a lightning rod to take all the heat, and that lightning rod is Wichita State.
Media personalities, big and small, are trying to find every reason they can as to why the undefeated Shockers should be denied a No. 1 seed. Even if the Shockers earn a 1 seed five weeks from now I can just see the “experts” picking them to lose in the second round. The talking head vultures are circling.
“Oh my God they play in the Missouri Valley. That’s like Division II basketball.” Now say that with the voice of Digger Phelps. Phelps trashed the notion of Wichita State obtaining a No. 1 seed Saturday suggesting it would get knocked out in the second round like Gonzaga was a year ago. Problem is Gonzaga was knocked out by … Wichita State.
Wichita State fans can either ignore all the negativity or start preparing their own defense. For those picking the latter here is a nerdy RPI argument to get things started.
While the experts focus on the strength of schedule of WSU’s Missouri Valley slate, they can’t attack its non-conference play. When compared to the other undefeated team, Syracuse, you might be shocked on how the Shockers stack up. Sorry, couldn’t resist.
Both schools played 13 games out of conference and here is a list of those teams in chronological order. The only hitch is Wichita State opened against a Division II team in Emporia State. That school is not a part of the RPI, but it did win at Division I Missouri-Kansas City. For that achievement, I think we should at least give Emporia State the same RPI as UMKC. The RPI rankings below are as of February 3.
Out of the 26 schools on this non-conference list, Syracuse played four out the five worst teams. Even though Wichita State had the tougher task of getting quality teams to play in its gym, it lured sneaky mid-majors Western Kentucky and North Carolina Central. Both could end up in the tournament. Consecutive wins over two SEC teams, plus BYU and at Saint Louis should make up for the Missouri Valley schedule.
Syracuse only played one non-conference game on the road in St. John’s. Binghamton and Cornell are in the bottom 10 of Division I. If Wichita State is going to be penalized for playing in the Missouri Valley then shouldn’t Syracuse be penalized for playing cupcakes at home?
The point is trashing Wichita State’s strength of schedule is hypocritical. Every contender is going to play some bad teams. Syracuse can be judged by ESPN’s cookie-cutter formula, but mid-majors like Wichita State cannot. Do you think Villanova is going to travel to Wichita State? It’s amazing that Tennessee did.
Buckle up mid-majors of the world. The rhetoric is only going to get worse from here on out.