Gregg Marshall has piloted Wichita State to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances, an undefeated regular season and a Final Four in the last four years. Now, for the first time in this historic stretch, his Shockers might need help to make March Madness.
It's not that the Shockers aren't the class of the Valley again; they are, led by the nation's best per-possession defense and seniors Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker, and will probably be favored by KenPom against any conceivable first-round NCAA Tournament foe. It's just that Wichita State ended up devoured by every non-conference beast whose pelt it attempted to take, save for Utah, and doesn't have much margin for error at Arch Madness.
After the Shockers got, well, shocked, on Saturday by No. 4 seed Northern Iowa, like they were by Illinois State in 2015, it's entirely possible that another Valley team will be the only one dancing. Prime candidates Evansville and Northern Iowa are just within the KenPom top 100, and will face off for the conference tournament title on Sunday.
The tournament takes place in the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, which also will host first and second-round action in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. The No. 7-10 seeds will all play first-round games for the right to meet No. 1 seed Wichita State and No. 2 seed Evansville, and the Shockers and Aces are in separate brackets, so they can't meet until the final.
- Wichita State
- Illinois State
- Northern Iowa
- Southern Illinois
- Indiana State
- Missouri State
You can see the full bracket here.
Schedule and Results (all times Eastern)
Thursday, March 3 (First Round)
Game 1: No. 8 Loyola-Chicago 74, No. 9 Bradley 66
Game 2: No. 7 Missouri State 69, No. 10 Drake 67
Friday, March 4 (Quarterfinals)
Game 3: No. 1 Wichita State 66, No. 8 Loyola-Chicago 58
Game 4: No. 4 Northern Iowa 66, No. 5 Southern Illinois 60
Game 5: No. 2 Evansville 66, No. 7 Missouri State 56
Game 6: No. 6 Indiana State 65, No. 3 Illinois State 57
Saturday, March 5 (Semifinals)
Game 7: No. 4 Northern Iowa 57, No. 1 Wichita State 52
Game 8: No. 2 Evansville 68, No. 6 Indiana State 42
Sunday, March 6 (Championship)
Game 9: No. 4 Northern Iowa 56, No. 2 Evansville 54