LARNED — There is a lot of talk by the “smarties” as to whether or not the Wichita State Shockers should get a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Of course they should.
In fact, give them the overall No. 1 seed.
The most often heard criticism of Wichita State is “they don’t play anybody.”
Hey, they played, and beat, everybody on their schedule.
If the “name” schools and conferences are unwilling to travel to Wichita you cannot use that against them.
Besides, the Missouri Valley Conference IS NOT a weak basketball conference. It is a rock-solid basketball conference.
You want to know a dirty little secret?
The reason conferences like the Missouri Valley get a bad rap is because they don’t play big-time, BCS football.
If you can explain to me why Alabama’s basketball team, with their losing record, is considered “big time” while a school like Wichita or Indiana State is put down then I will buy you a seat for the championship game!
Just because Paul “Bear” Bryant turned Alabama into a consistent national contender in football and that the tradition continues today has nothing to do with ranking schools in basketball.
This is the same Missouri Valley that for years had a school from Omaha, Creighton, as one of it’s members and they carried the same bad rap.
This year Creighton moved to the Big East Conference, the conference that is the favorite “darling” of the eastern press syndicates, and VOILA! They are, all of a sudden, “Big Time”.
Perhaps we should point out that Creighton just dominated that conference this year. Not bad for one of those Missouri Valley “Mid-Majors.”
Yes, Wichita State deserves that No. 1 seed.
What’s more, the team they beat for the conference tournament championship, Indiana State deserves an At-Large bid to the NCAA tournament. That would set the “smarties” to clucking their tongues!
The Sycamores are 23-10 for the season after finishing second this past weekend.
Consider this: three of those ten losses came against Wichita State, the No. 2 team in the nation!
Toss out those three losses and the Sycamores are a gaudy 23-7 which includes an 83-70 pasting of Notre Dame!
It is time to get the “football mentality” out of college basketball.
There are lots of outstanding teams out there. Many of them do not play in “football conferences.”
Times are a’ changing.
Schools like Wichita State, Butler, Gonzaga and Florida Gulf Coast are kicking down the front door of this party that, in the past, has excluded too many, whether the establishment is ready for them or not.
Kudos to the Great Bend Lady Panthers basketball team for their excellent season and march into the Class 5A State Tournament. The ladies at 20-2 tangled with Topeka Seaman at 19-3 in the first round of in one of the most loaded brackets in all of the state championship play this week.
A “shout out” also is in order for the Panthers boys team and head coach Chris Battin.
Yes, an 8-13 record is a losing record, but they made significant improvement as this season went on, winning six of their final 11 games.
Way back in January, the Panthers put together a three-game winning streak that seemed to turn around the attitudes and fortunes of this young ball club.
Some of those late-season wins were victories over teams that had defeated them earlier in the season. The future is looking brighter for Panthers basketball.
Charles Tabler is a contributing writer from Larned.