Wichita State’s streak of 7 straight NCAA Tournament trips ends, team awaits NIT invite

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Wichita State’s streak of 7 straight NCAA Tournament trips ends, team awaits NIT invite

Wichita State freshman Jamarius Burton reacts to his dunk during the first half of the game against Cincinnati on March 16, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

Wichita State freshman Jamarius Burton reacts to his dunk during the first half of the game against Cincinnati on March 16, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

Joseph Barringhaus

Wichita State freshman Jamarius Burton reacts to his dunk during the first half of the game against Cincinnati on March 16, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

Joseph Barringhaus

Joseph Barringhaus

Wichita State freshman Jamarius Burton reacts to his dunk during the first half of the game against Cincinnati on March 16, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The streak is over.

For the first time in eight years, Wichita State is not dancing in the NCAA Tournament.

That’s not to say that the Shockers’ season is over. Wichita State players are anxiously awaiting an invitation to the National Invitation Tournament. If it were to receive an invitation, it would be the team’s first appearance in the tournament since 2011 when the team won it all.

How likely is it for the Shockers to make the NIT?

Gregg Marshall’s young team finished the season at 19-14 and won its last six games before its semifinal exit in the American Athletic Conference tournament.

Samajae Haynes-Jones and Markis McDuffie, the Shockers’ two seniors, want to play in a tournament should the opportunity present itself.

“(We) have talked about it a little bit, and hopefully, if we get something good, we are going to take it,” Haynes-Jones said. 

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State seniors Markis McDuffie and Samajae Haynes-Jones speak after the game against Cincinnati on March 16, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

The NIT is a tournament made for teams on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament — teams who played well and turned heads down the stretch, but like Wichita State, didn’t win the an automatic and didn’t do enough to warrant an at-large berth. Wichita State, who has made 10 consecutive post-season appearances, presents an interesting case. 

Surprising to many, the team finished 10-6 in conference play. Wichita State became the first team in conference history to finish with better than seven wins in the conference after having won just one game in its first seven.

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State senior Markis McDuffie goes up for a dunk during the first half of the game against Cincinnati on March 16, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. He was fouled on the play. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

“We lost a good amount of games that we should’ve won, but we came back and won a lot of games, too,” McDuffie said. “We had to keep fighting to the end.”

Wichita State won just one game against teams that finished in the top five of the conference. That lone win came in Wichita against Central Florida, otherwise, the Shockers couldn’t steal a win against the better competition. The team did its damage against the bottom-half of the conference, sweeping teams like Tulane, East Carolina and Southern Methodist.

Wichita State had the easiest conference strength of schedule. Without its play this weekend, WSU would have likely been out of the conversation for the NIT. Now, with a win over Temple and a three-point loss to Cincinnati, Wichita State may have made enough of a statement to receive an invite.

“We are all willing to take it,” freshman Jamarius Burton said. “Our hopes are that our season is not over.”

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State freshman Jamarius Burton reacts to a made three-pointer he shot during the first half of the game against Cincinnati on March 16, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).