The Shockers Got Screwed

Considering Wichita State went undefeated for more than four months and did everything asked of them (beat five tourney teams non-conference, actually played road games) …

While Arizona lost two games the final week, four overall, in a conference that’s probably not among the three best in America …

Why did the NCAA Selection Committee give the Shockers the most brutal bracket? 

Gregg-MarshallThe New York Post, never a paper to mince words, believes the 35-0 Shockers were screwed. And there’s really no debate.

Let’s quickly examine the evidence:

To reach back-to-back Final Fours, Wichita State must play the preseason No. 1 team — Kentucky — this afternoon.

If WSU gets by Kentucky, the MVC Champs play the defending national champions Louisville — a team many felt could’ve been a top seed, as they played as well anyone the final month — 115 miles from their old Kentucky home.

Should the Shockers win their remarkable 37th consecutive contest in a virtual road game, WuShock likely plays Big Ten champ Michigan, who probably should’ve been a No. 1 seed and was national runner-up in last season.

The hardest road in history?  The boys from southern Kansas deserved better.

Arizona, meanwhile, plays a West Coast conference team tonight, and with a win, takes on an offensively-challenged San Diego State, followed perhaps by a Wisconsin team who barely edged a No. 7 seed before a home crowd. If not the Badgers, then the ‘Cats play Creighton or Baylor in a game just 450 miles from the U of A campus.

As evidenced most years, the Selection Committee has a bias toward major conference teams while smaller schools get the shaft. Amazingly, results don’t always matter either.

Like Butler, George Mason, Virginia Commonwealth and others before them, Wichita State succeeded against all odds last year. On the contrary, teams like Duke and Syracuse continue to get preferential treatment based upon reputation over performance.

Duke lost in the first round for the second time in three seasons Friday and has only reached one Final Four the past 10 years. Syracuse, who reached only their second Final Four in nearly two decades in 2013, was also dumped by a “mid major” last night.

Unfortunately, memories are short.

Underachieving, overrated conferences like the ACC continue to benefit from a media (mainly ESPN) stacked with their alumni, and a committee looking not to reward guts and success, but rather money and power.

As a devout capitalist, I never thought I’d write those last lines, but I also never thought I’d be proven correct nearly every spring.

It doesn’t make me happy; it makes me less interested in college basketball.

And that’s the biggest shame.

About AJ Kaufman

A former schoolteacher and military historian, A.J. now works in public relations. As an MSF columnist since 2009, he supports anything baseball-related. Raised in San Diego, A.J. has since resided in numerous parts of America, including Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio and Washington State. After departing the coasts in 2005, he's traveled the back roads of all 50 states and prefers the Heartland. Married to Maria, A.J. is the author of three books and enjoys reading presidential biographies.


  1. AAC is a ‘major’ because they get an automatic major bowl bid in football. Don’t let facts like the football conference is garbage get in the way of that.

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      True, though hardly the point of the article. Wichita State shouldn’t have been given this draw. They earned better. Period.

  2. Darrell Ashworth says:

    Arizona has been buying hookers for the committee since back in the Lute Olson days.

  3. Agree. Agree. Agree. No reason UK should’ve been an 8-seed. What’s killer is the committee basically said that, based on their “S-curve”; Louisville was the 15th best team going in, and UK was the 31st best team…while UMass (?!) was the 23rd best team. Ridiculous. I don’t know if it was a conspiracy…it’s difficult to figure out exactly what the alternatives would’ve been for the committee with first round matchup restrictions (i.e. no intra-conference or reg season rematches in 1st round); but more of an effort should’ve been made to consider the fairness…

    ….actually it’s not so difficult: Syracuse and L’ville should’ve swapped, along with Kentucky and Texas (with K-State swapping regions with GW to solve the intra-conference Big 12 matchup issue). Also swap Michigan and Villanova (WAY overrated IMO…didn’t deserve regional pickings there. It’s not a requirement for an east school to play in east region if top 4 seed..although they try to do it if bracket integrity is still kept)

    Basically you would’ve had the following match ups in 2nd round:
    Midwest: Wich St-Texas in 1-8. Syracuse-SLU in 4-5. Winners facing each other…..also Villanova-Kentucky in 2-7 matchup.
    South: Louisville-Dayton in 3-11. KU-Stanford in 2-10. Winners facing each other.
    East: Michigan-UConn in 2-7 matchup(winner facing UNC-Iowa St).

    I don’t know ANYONE who would have an issue with this. Based on how the season went + how the teams were performing via “eye test” – this would’ve been a completely fair and balanced bracket. And I believe scheduling criteria would be met.

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      Perfect comments. Nothing to argue there. The Committee seeks money and ratings, as does the elite (coastal) media. They wanted WSU gone, and they made sure it happened as quickly as possible with UK as an 8 and other questionable seeds/brackets. This year was the most questionable bracket set up in my lifetime.

  4. Mark Henderson says:

    I agree that KU was definitely better than an 8th seed, especially proving that to the biased selection committee in the SEC final, taking Florida to the wire. Florida and Wichita St. deserved the most respect in the bracket for their success during the season, and just based on the ‘eye test’. The tournament will be a lot better once the selection committee throws out their love affair with the East coast teams, the ACC, and the Big 10. Don’t assume they are the ‘power’ conferences. Look how the SEC has disproven their bias with their two selections and one ‘play-in’ team. (Don’t even get me going on how our third team had to play an extra game to get in.). I loved watching the Shockers play. They deserved a better fate.

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      Thanks, Mark. You are correct about the SEC, Wichita State, etc.

      As to: “The tournament will be a lot better once the selection committee throws out their love affair with the East coast teams.”

      Won’t occur. The media is based in the northeast and has a vested interest in their bias. I know these people, and they know no better. Most ESPN employees, for example, attended Duke, Maryland, UNC or Syracuse. Some Northwestern, but that’s immaterial. This is why most wise sports fans avoid ESPN these days, but they have an influence on CBS and the Committee sadly. (And FYI, plenty of Duke grads and east coasters calling games or in studio for CBS/TNT/TBS this week too).

      Facts and results won’t change their minds and will be forgotten by next March.

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