The Wichita State Shockers won another easy game over an inferior opponent on March 1. This is nothing new for the Shockers, who have won these kind of games most of the season --and been derided and doubted for it. Yet this particular easy win made history for Wichita State, as its 68-45 triumph over the Missouri State Bears gave it college basketball's first perfect regular season in 10 years.
No college basketball team has finished with a perfect overall season since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers, and the Shockers still have a long way to go for that goal. Wichita State needs nine more victories to finish 40-0 and become national champions -- but six of those wins have to come in the NCAA tournament, against much tougher competition than Missouri State.
The Bears are one of the few teams in the Missouri Valley Conference other than the Shockers to have a winning record, yet that didn't make a difference on this day. This 31'st and final regular season win was a coronation from minute one, as Wichita State went up by as many as 20 points in the first half. Missouri State couldn't get much closer in the second half, standing by as the celebration got into full swing.
The Shockers finished 18-0 in the Missouri Valley, yet the conference will get as many as three more chances to keep them from staying perfect before the NCAA tournament. History doesn't favor Wichita State, as the St. Joseph's Hawks were the last team to have a perfect regular season in 2003-04, then went on to lose its first conference tournament game.
Those Hawks went onto the Elite Eight anyway, but the Shockers want to go further -- and already know that they can. Wichita State went to the Final Four last year and almost knocked off the eventual national champion Louisville Cardinals, but it has been riding momentum from it ever since. Yet despite their recent track record against the elite, the decline of the Missouri Valley this season has tainted the Shockers' unblemished record.
An early loss in the conference tournament could actually keep Wichita State from a No. 1 NCAA seed. Even then, the Shockers will be regarded as the most vulnerable top seed -- like last year's Gonzaga Bulldogs were before losing to none other than Wichita State last March.