Don't Kill The Mellinger

Columnist Sam Mellinger's thoughts on sports and other important stuff

Even though they’re undefeated, the Shockers should be believed

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02/17/2014 12:55 PM

05/16/2014 11:42 AM

If I’m picking a fight with a straw-man, let me apologize in advance, but I hear too much on TV and radio and in my email to not believe that at least some of you think Wichita State’s basketball team isn’t actually all that good.

If that’s overstating for the purpose of this blog post, fine, but it sure seems like a chunk of annual lull in the college basketball season before conference races are decided and the NCAA Tournament starts is being filled with folks poking holes at the Shockers.

Don’t be that guy.

The Shockers are in a strange spot, because in some ways, they’d be more respected if they had loss. That sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true. With a loss, there wouldn’t be that shiny 0 in the record and people would be freer to see Wichita State for the very solid, absolutely threatening team it is.

With an undefeated record, there are too many manufactured stories about the Shockers chasing perfection which puts the conversation in a place it doesn’t belong.

It belongs in a place of reason, in a place where you can see that many mid-majors have risen to college basketball’s elite, so the lack of a blueblood brand name on the uniforms should no longer be an issue.

It also belongs in a place of facts, where you can see that the leading scorer and seven others who averaged double-digit minutes for a 30-win team that made the Final Four by beating top-seeded Gonzaga and No. 2 Ohio State last year are beating all comers this year.

If virtually any other program was having a good season the year after a Final Four run — in which it lost to the eventual champion by four points — the perception would be so different.

Again, if this comes off as a straw-man argument, I apologize. If you are not among those down-grading the Shockers because it doesn’t say "Kansas" or "Kentucky" on their jerseys, then good for you.

But it has to mean something that the Shockers are undefeated, and it has to mean something that they are ahead of Duke and Kentucky in

RPI, and ahead of Kentucky and Michigan State in Ken Pomeroy’s numbers

.

Would you be surprised if Duke, Kentucky or Michigan State made the Final Four?

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