What do we do with Wichita State?

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Wichita State’s Fred VanVleet (23) shoots against Northern Iowa’s Wes Washpun during the first half in an MVC tournament semifinal on Saturday, March 5, 2016, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Northern Iowa won, 57-52, in overtime. (Travis Heying/Wichita Eagle/TNS)

The Shockers’ regular season has concluded. Wichita State finished 23-8, winning the Missouri Valley regular season title. They were bounced in the MVC semis by Northern Iowa, who are certainly a respectable team. Here are some of Wichita State’s final numbers:

Record: 23-8
Average Margin of Victory: +13.7 (#8 in the country)
Points Allowed per game: 59.4 (#1 in the country)
Opponent Assists per game: 9.2 (#1 in the country)
Opponent FGM per game: 18.8 (#1 in the country)
Opponent Offensive Rebounds per game: 6.0 (#1 in the country)

There are a number of other stats that indicate Wichita St. is not just a tournament worthy team, but an extremely good team.

Let’s take a look at some more important stats when determining their tournament worthiness:

Strength of Schedule: 117
Win Strength: 45
Games decided by 10 points or less: 3-7
Games decided by more than 10 points: 20-1
Games against the top 100: 4-7
Games against all others: 19-1
Average margin of victory against top 100: 0
Average margin of victory against all others: +21.3

What we’re getting at here is that the stats in the first section are largely (and you could even see very, very largely) due to beating the pants off of weak teams. In a vacuum, one of the most important stats, record against the top 100, is not a feather in their cap. Taken at face value, this is the resume of a bubble team. Forget about the team name and what they’ve done in the past. Their resume is a bubble quality resume.

But Wichita State has one huge thing working in their favor. Their best player, Fred VanVleet, missed their early-season trip to Florida with injury, where they dropped games to USC, Alabama, and Iowa. Iowa still may have beaten them with VanVleet, but it’s not all that unreasonable to think that at least one of a 3-point loss to USC or 4-point loss to Alabama might have been wins with VanVleet in the lineup. One can only speculate, but if one of those games turned out to be a win, Wichita State’s resume would be worthy of a 10 seed. If they had won both, they’d deserve an 8 or 9.

It would be EXTREMELY harsh to leave this team out of the field due to their best player missing a week in November due to an injury. Wichita State is 23-5 with VanVleet in the lineup, including two road losses to tournament teams. With VanVleet in the lineup, opponents have cracked 70 points just TWICE all season! They’ve cracked 60 just 9 times! And that’s with the reduced shot clock!

But most importantly, with Fred VanVleet in the lineup, Wichita State is undoubtedly one of the 36 best at-large teams in the pool, and if they are not selected to the field of 68, it will be an absolute sham.

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