Year three—George Mason
Colonial Athletic Association. Wichita State has just beaten Creighton in overtime and was on the verge of clinching their first Missouri Valley Conference championship in 28 years. The Patriots won by three in the Roundhouse, spurring their run to the Final Four, a run that included a Sweet 16 rematch with the Shockers in their home city of Washington, DC.
Last three years
VCU, Davidson and Detroit have all been meaningful. To this day Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart credits his team’s win in Wichita as the driving force in their Final Four run in 2011. In truth, that one point game won by the Rams on a controversial call in the final second was probably the difference in VCU going to the NCAA with the Shockers headed to the NIT. It worked out for both and a rivalry, of sorts, was born. A year later VCU knocks Wichita State out of the NCAA’s, before the Shockers return to Richmond this season to claim their biggest road win, one that will resonate on Selection Sunday.
Last year’s blowout at Davidson was merely an affirmation of what Wichita State was all about at the time. The Shockers were in the midst of a nine game win streak and a nearly two month run when they lost just once. The game came just a week after WSU had pummeled Creighton on the road on national television and solidified what would end up being a fifth-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Even Gregg Marshall, the staunchest of defensive task masters, acknowledged how fun it was playing up and down with the Titans. Wichita State was so dominant that Detroit coach Ray McCallum lamented the pace of the game, saying that the Shockers played too fast for them. Too fast for a team that averages 79 points. Too fast for a team that lives in transition. Too fast for a team that expects to win every track meet they enter. Not that Marshall had any doubts about his team’s ability to play at such an accelerated pace, but having done it should give them that much more confidence moving forward.
There have been some moments with Malcolm Armstead that have given one pause; the silly technical against Southern Mississippi and the late game misplays at Northern Iowa and Southern Illinois. But the senior is flat out balling down the season’s stretch. In their current five game win streak Armstead is averaging nearly 16 points and 4.5 assists a game. Not only has he played great, but he’s elevated the play of those around him.
What did you expect?
Was there any outcome yesterday more predictable than the beat down KU laid on TCU? You know what they say about pay backs.
Just cruising along
K-State had another ho-hum road win at Texas yesterday, as they sweep Texas for the first time in Big 12 play. Are the Wildcats playing themselves into a three seed? Do Arizona, Louisville, New Mexico and Syracuse have that much better resumes? Four of KSU’s five losses have come to top 10 RPI’s, the other, at Iowa State, was against a team in the top 50. In other words, the Wildcats have no bad losses.