March 19, 2014

Direct Kick: NCAA gives no love to Wichita State

By Denis House
Sports Editor

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — So looking at the NCAA tournament bracket I have come to this conclusion: The NCAA doesn’t want Wichita State to make it to the finals.

The Shockers might be the No. 1 seed in the Midwest, but they were put in the same region with Michigan, Duke, Louisville and Kentucky. To use a soccer term, this is the group of death.

Florida, Virginia and Arizona are the other No. 1 seeds and really have an easier trip to the Final Four than Wichita State. Florida, the top seed in the South, is in the same region with Kansas, Syracuse and UCLA, to name just three. Kansas and Syracuse have been up and down the last few weeks of the season, and I don’t think UCLA’s a legitimate contender for the title. Ohio State might surprise out of this region, but they too have been inconsistent this season.

Over in the East Virginia is the No. 1 seed,  but this is mainly on their play over the last month of the season. They did win the ACC regular season and tournament title, which is quite an accomplishment, but remember they also lost to Maryland, a team that didn’t make the tournament, along with VCU and Green Bay. I don’t know if the Cavaliers have enough to make it to the Final Four, because Villanova and Michigan State stand in their way.

Out West Arizona is the No. 1 seed, but they fell in their conference tournament finals to UCLA. Wisconsin is also out west, along with Creighton and, well, not many other powers. If the Wildcats are playing their best, then they should have no trouble advancing to the Final Four.

Which brings us back to the Midwest. I guess we will find out if the Shockers are truly one of the best teams in the nation or if they achieved their unbeaten record by their weak strength of schedule. They should have no trouble beating the winner of Cal Poly/Texas Southern in their first game, but then they will face the winner of Kentucky-Kansas State. This battle of Wildcats could go either way, but if the same Kentucky team shows up which beat LSU in the SEC Tournament, then UK should have no trouble advancing, heck, all the way to the Elite 8. Of course that might mean they would have to beat Louisville, the defending national champs and a team that hasn’t gotten too much love lately. And let’s not overlook Michigan and Duke, two teams that are very capable of advancing all the way to the finals.

Yes, the Midwest bracket should be a fun one to watch this time around. One thing is for sure: The winner of this bracket will probably be the best tested of the other three.

Let the games begin.