WICHITA, Kan. — Wichita State’s No. 1 seed was supposed to make it an insider, part of the power elite and a favorite to make brackets conform to its will.
But the NCAA tournament selection committee made the Shockers outsiders again.
In a powerful Midwest Regional, the Shockers will face prominent teams led by famous coaches who didn’t recruit them. WSU coach Gregg Marshall will prepare for rosters full of players who he couldn’t recruit and teams who won’t play him in the regular season. WSU fans will share hotels and bars with fans who barely regard the Missouri Valley Conference as an NCAA Div. I conference.
Proving all that wrong is what drives Wichita State. Even before the bracket was announced, Marshall provided his view on how the Shockers compare to college basketball’s purebred programs.
“This NCAA tournament, it’s not the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show,” he said. “You don’t have to have papers to win it. We love our dogs at my house. None of them have their papers. I don’t have my papers. These (players) … most of them don’t have papers.”
Not everybody doubts the Shockers. Plenty love them for their unbeaten record and style of play. But there are enough big names in the bracket with them — Kentucky, Duke, Louisville, Michigan — to restore that underdog feeling.
“With all the talk outside of Wichita and outside of our program, about the schedule and not playing anybody, people … want us to apologize for how we’re playing,” sophomore guard Fred VanVleet said. “Our mind-set is we do belong here and now is the time to prove it.”
Pitino criticizes NCAA for team’s pairing
ORLANDO, Fla. — Louisville coach Rick Pitino had no problem with his team’s seeding. It was the pairing that drew his ire.
Pitino criticized the selection committee Wednesday for pitting his No. 4 seed and defending national champion Cardinals against 13th-seeded Manhattan, which is coached by Pitino’s former assistant, Steve Masiello. Louisville and Manhattan play tonight in the Midwest Region.
“I think the pairings sometimes lack common sense,” Pitino said. “I don’t think they would put somewhere down the road Duke-North Carolina so ... the matchups don’t make sense to me. I’m OK with the seedings. I’m not OK with the matchups.
“We press like him, we trap like him, his offensive sets are just like ours,” Pitino said. “That’s why I don’t like the game. I don’t think it’s fair. I don’t like it. I don’t know why they would do it. I just don’t like the game at all for either one of us. We won the national championship and obviously we’re more heralded, but this is anybody’s game. This is not a 1-16.”
• President Obama is picking Michigan State to win the tournament over defending champion Louisville.
In what has become an annual tradition at the White House, Obama filled out a bracket Wednesday. Florida and Arizona rounded out Obama’s Final Four picks. He has Arizona losing to Louisville in the semifinals.