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Roundtable: How should Wichita State's season be evaluated in the long run?

Gregg Marshall

Gregg Marshall

Wichita State’s bid for an undefeated season ended Sunday with a loss to Kentucky in a thriller in the round of 32.

The Shockers put together one of the great regular seasons in college basketball history, regardless of their strength of schedule.

Yet Wichita State didn’t reach the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. How should we evaluate Gregg Marshall’s team in years to come?

How should Wichita State’s 35-1 season be evaluated in the long run?

David Fox: Wichita State’s achievement of starting 35-0 will most often be remembered in the shorthand. By that, I mean the next time a team starts 25-0, Wichita State’s record of 35 consecutive wins to start the season will be the benchmark. And think about that: A team starting 25-0 still has 10 more to go before tying what Wichita State did. Moreover, the Shockers’ win over Kentucky will be remembered as one of the best NCAA Tournament games of the last decade or so, especially if Kentucky continues to advance through the tournament. Unfortunately, there will be a segment of fans that will see the next team to go on a long undefeated streak outside of a power conference and react with skepticism because Wichita State didn’t make it out of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. That’s not the outlook anyone with perspective should have, but it’s one that’s going to persist.

Braden Gall: Wichita State had a historic season that should and will be remembered for a long time. Some will choose to only remember the final 40 minutes and not the previous 35 games. Gregg Marshall did an amazing job with his squad and they were perfect until one uber-talented No. 8-seed battled them to the proverbial death. It's not the first time that has happened to a top-seeded team and it won't be the last. To be fair, I had Louisville topping the Shockers in the Sweet 16, so I wasn't exactly "on the bandwagon" but I certainly believe that this team was seeded perfectly. Wichita State deserved to be a one-seed in the hardest bracket — and the result was an instant classic.

Mitch Light: That’s a difficult question to answer because college basketball is such a postseason sport. Wichita State is clearly an elite team — one of the best in the nation this year — but the Shockers will not be remembered by most as one of the best in recent years because they did not advance past the first weekend of the tournament. This Wichita State team has often been compared to the 2003-04 Saint Joseph’s team that went undefeated in the regular season, but that team reached the Elite Eight before losing to a No. 2 seed, Oklahoma State. Wichita State, on the other hand, only won one game in the NCAAs and lost to a No. 8 seed, Kentucky.

Nathan Rush: The Wichita State Shockers had an impressive encore following last season’s unbelievable run to the Final Four. There's absolutely no denying that. Coach Gregg Marshall’s team ran the table with a perfect 34–0 regular season record that included wins over five teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament field of 68 — Tulsa, BYU, Saint Louis, Tennessee and NC Central. Those aren't the most impressive wins. Still, the Shockers beat everyone on their schedule until running into preseason No. 1 Kentucky's greatest recruiting class since Anthony Davis and MKG. There's no shame in losing to Coach Cal's NBA roster. Wichita State definitely got a raw draw from the NCAA Tournament selection committee. But it is fitting that the team that foolishly thought it had a chance to go 40-0 took down the team that actually posted a 35-0 record. Wichita State should be proud of the past two seasons.

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