31-0! Shockers finish regular season undefeated; 1 seed debate continues
For the first time in 10 seasons college basketball has a team go wire to wire in the regular season without a loss.
Another routine win culminated a most abnormal campaign in college basketball.
Wichita State made history Saturday afternoon, becoming the first team in 10 years to go undefeated in the regular season. Wichita State easily won 68-45 at home over Missouri State, going 31-0 in the process and cementing itself in the history books. Saint Joseph's, which went 27-0 in 2003-04, was the last team to enter its league tournament without a loss.
Due to longer regular seasons these days, no team has been able to do what Gregg Marshall's Shockers have, and that's win 31 in a row, start to finish, in regular-season play.
The Shockers beat opponents by an average of 16 points this season. Only six of the team's 31 games were decided by single digits, only one by fewer than five points.
Yet the debate of Wichita State's right to a No. 1 seed still remains, despite the zero under the loss column all the way into March. Critics cite Wichita State's down league and overall weak strength of schedule compared to other contenders for the four top spots in the big bracket, which will be unveiled in 15 days, on March 16. It's worth nothing that CBSSports.com Bracketologist Jerry Palm has had the Shockers as the No. 1 overall seed for a couple of weeks.
"Very proud," Marshall, who turned 51 years old on Thursday, said on TV afterward. "Very proud of these guys, of how they've handled this. There's been a lot of focus, both positive and negative about this team. ... They're fun to be around, and they deserve this 31-0."
Prior to Saint Joseph's, the last two teams to enter their league tournaments without a loss: 1990-91 UNLV and 1978-79 Indiana State. This is a very rare thing indeed, and it's made Wichita State the story of the 2013-14 college basketball season.
Cleanthony Early led the Shockers with 19 points. The sold-out crowd was involved for most of the game, even though it was decided even before halftime. The toughest game of the season Wichita State faced was back in January, when Missouri State held an 18-point lead in the second half on the Shockers. The Bears folded, went to OT, and eventually lost 72-69.
Saturday had no such drama, only inevitability.
In the final minute of play, Koch Arena erupted with chants of "UN-DE-FEA-TED!" The Shockers are 31-0 and, as they'd all tell you, still not anywhere close to done or satisfied.
Wichita State joins this list of the only teams to end the regular season undefeated, dating back to Indiana's perfect run in 1975-76.
2004: Saint Joseph's (27-0)
1991: UNLV (27-0)
1979: Indiana State (29-0)
1979: Alcorn State (27-0)
1976: Rutgers (28-0)
1976: Indiana (27-0)
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