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2014 NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed: Wichita State Shockers

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Coach: Gregg Marshall | NCAA Tournament record: 5-9

Best finish: Final Four (2013)

Assistants: Chris Jans, Greg Heiar, Steve Forbes

Starting lineup:
G: Fred VanVleet
G: Ron Baker
G: Tekele Cotton
F: Cleanthony Early
F: Kadeem Coleby
Top reserve: Darius Carter

Leading scorer: Cleanthony Early (15.8) | Leading rebounder: Early (5.9)

National championships: None | Last Final Four: 2013

Why Wichita State might win it all: The Shockers might win it all because, well, they almost won it all last season, and they're even better this season. Yes, their 34-0 record is somewhat related to a conference filled with inferior competition; that's undeniable. But Wichita State could compete at the top of any league in the country, and the Shockers have never lost to an inferior team, which has to be worth something in a season in which we've seen Duke lose to Wake Forest, Michigan lose to Charlotte, Wisconsin lose to Northwestern, Villanova lose to Seton Hall, etc. Beyond that, the computers love the Shockers, too. They're top five at KenPom and top five in the RPI. Simply put, they might win it all because they're good enough to win it all.

Why Wichita State might not win it all: It usually takes a certain number of future NBA Draft picks to win a championship, and I'm not sure how many future NBA Draft picks are on Wichita State's roster. So that's a concern, I guess. Another concern could be the fact that it's been more than three months since Wichita State played another NCAA Tournament team. Will the sudden step-up in competition bother the Shockers? I doubt it. But there will be no shortage of people suggesting it did, you know, if it does.

Player to watch: Fred VanVleet is the main reason this version of Wichita State is better than last year's version. The sophomore point guard is averaging 12.1 points, 5.3 assists and 3.9 rebounds. He was named the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year -- not because of those numbers, but because he's so clearly the leader and most important part of this team. The Shockers are unflappable collectively. VanVleet is the face of that.

One guy soaring: Tekele Cotton. The 6-foot-2 junior has scored better than his 10.8 ppg average in five of Wichita State's past six games, and he was named the Most Valuable Player of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. Cotton has made 10 of his past 15 3-point attempts. When he's shooting like that, the Shockers are extremely difficult to guard.

One guy slumping: Ron Baker, even though nobody really is slumping on this team, honestly. But Baker did miss all six 3-point attempts he took in the MVC tournament title game. So I suppose you can call that slumping, if you want. But it should be noted that Baker was 6 of 8 from beyond the arc in Wichita State's previous two games, point being that he's probably fine.

Notable stat: There are only two college basketball teams with an offense and a defense that both rank in the top 10 nationally, according to KenPom. Louisville is one of those teams. Wichita State is the other.

Final thought: What you'll see when you check my bracket posted here at CBSSports.com is that I've picked Wichita State to win the national championship, and I didn't do it for attention. I did it because I think the Shockers are just as reasonable of a pick as anybody else. There is no 2009 North Carolina or 2012 Kentucky competing this season. Nobody is overwhelming. So why not Wichita State?

The Shockers, who went to the Final Four last season, enter the Big Dance boasting a 34-0 mark. (USATSI)
The Shockers, who reached the Final Four last season, enter the Big Dance with a 34-0 mark. (USATSI)

 
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