Students excited for Shockers’ NCAA opportunity
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When the Shockers won the Missouri Valley Conference tournament title this past weekend, fans were excited for more than a few reasons.
First, fans were excited because the team brought back the trophy from the tournament for the second time in four years. Second, WSU beat Illinois State to show clear domination over the Valley. And third, the Shockers received an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Sarah Nelson, a senior studying economics and human resources, traveled to Arch Madness to see the Shockers win the championship for the second time during her time at Wichita State.
“Being a senior, it’s been awhile since we’ve seen them win in St. Louis, obviously our freshman year,” Nelson said. “As fun as that was, that was the 31-0 season so it was a little more expected and this year there was a lot of nervous energy.”
Nelson said she couldn’t relax until the final buzzer sounded in the game against the Redbirds.
“We’ve seen the comebacks and whatnot, so knowing it was over and it was final was a relief for sure,” Nelson said.
Maddie Holzem, a senior majoring in human resources and marketing, also made the trip up to St. Louis. She was able to sit close to the front of the student section at each game.
“It was awesome and I’m so happy I got the opportunity to go and watch them win,” Holzem said.
With the championship in the bag from last weekend, the Shockers received an automatic bid for the tournament meaning this week would be more relaxing than past years as the team waits for Selection Sunday.
Holzem said she thinks the bid for the NCAA Tournament is well deserved.
“I think that throughout the season we have definitely proved ourselves a worthy opponent,” Holzem said. “I think we deserve at least a fair bid somewhere in the middle of the mix; maybe a seven or eight seed.”
Nelson said she anticipates Wichita State being underseeded at this year’s NCAA Tournament.
“It happens every year; we’re a mid-major,” said Nelson. “I expect somewhere between the eight and 11 [seed]. I would prefer to see us a little higher, probably a five, six, seven seed.
“But such is the life of the Shockers.”
From ESPN to CBS Sports, there is a great deal of speculation present about WSU’s seeding the tournament. Some brackets have even predicted the possibility of Wichita State meeting their friends from Lawrence in the second round.
Nelson said the Shockers meeting the Jayhawks in the tournament is something she would like to see.
“Personally, I would love a KU matchup because I really enjoyed that game two years ago,” Nelson said. “At the same time, for the sake of advancing in the tournament I’d like to see some of the lower Big 12 teams.”
Clayton Baughn, a sophomore mechanical engineering student, said he would also like to see a KU-WSU matchup in postseason play.
“I’ve heard a lot about seeing KU being a one [seed] and Wichita State being a nine [seed] and that means they would play in the second round,” Baughn said. “I’d be down for that. Let’s play KU again because I didn’t get to go to the first one.”
Baughn said the weekend in St. Louis showed the depth of the Wichita State men’s basketball program.
“[Winning the tournament] means we’re sustainable. It’s not something where we rely on one player,” Baughn said. “Yeah, Ron Baker, [Fred] VanVleet, [Tekele] Cotton, those were all great guys, but when it comes down to it, Gregg Marshall has really instilled a culture within Wichita State basketball of hard work and determination.”