Where should Wichita State be seeded?
A year ago, the committee struggled to decide whether Wichita State belonged in the field or not. This year, it’s the Shockers’ seeding that could pose problems for similar reasons.
Assessing Wichita State is again unusually difficult because the Shockers (30-4) could be one of the best teams in the country even if they don’t have many marquee wins as validation.
On one hand, Wichita State assembled an aggressive non-conference schedule featuring five games against name-brand opponents. On the other hand, the Shockers lost to Louisville, Michigan State and Oklahoma State and didn’t prove much by beating rebuilding Oklahoma and woeful LSU.
On one hand, Wichita State ripped through the Valley, winning 20 of 21 games against league opponents by an average of 21.5 points apiece. On the other hand, the Valley is down this year and features only one other top-100 team.
On one hand, history is on Wichita State’s side: The Shockers have won nine NCAA tournament games the past four seasons, including five as the lesser-seeded team. On the other hand, history shouldn’t matter: The selection committee is instructed to consider only this season’s results.
Even the most prominent computer metrics aren’t much help. The RPI, which ignores margin of victory, ranks the Shockers 29th. KenPom, which does take margin of victory into account, has the Shockers 8th.
The challenge for the selection committee is to find a way to seed Wichita State that’s fair to both the Shockers and their opponents. How would you like to be the No. 7 seed who oddsmakers anoint a five-point underdog against the Shockers in round one? Or the No. 2 seed who’s facing a top-10 KenPom opponent in round two?
So where should Wichita State be seeded? A No. 6 or 7 seed feels most fair. That’s as close as the committee can come to finding a spot on the bracket that doesn’t ignore the Shockers’ top-10 KenPom ranking or the blemishes on their résumé.
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