Why 35-0 Doesn’t Matter if You Lose in NCAA Tournament
Wichita State is a very good team and they were a team that could have easily won the entire tournament. Cleanthony Early was the best player on the floor against Kentucky and it wasn’t even close, but the thing about sports is there can only be one champion.
What you did in the regular season doesn’t matter, it can be respected, but frankly it doesn’t mean much when you don’t close the deal (ask Peyton Manning).
When you go undefeated it puts that much more pressure on you to perform, when you go undefeated in a non-power conference people are going to question your qualifications. Wichita State knew this going into the tournament and accepted that responsibility.
Going 35-0 in any league (rec league, YMCA, Kindercare) is hard, but you knew that the Shockers would face quality competition and people wondered how they would respond. Kentucky is a good team and talented one, but they are inconsistent and inexperienced. That is why they were an #8 seed and Wichita State was a #1 seed. The Shockers talked a lot about being disrespected and having a chip on their shoulder. They wanted to prove the critics wrong, that said the first team they faced a team from one of the big boy conference in the tournament they would lose. But, they didn’t follow through on that promise.
Because of that they are 35-1, that is a great record but when the one loss was the one that knocks you out of the tournament those 35 wins don’t feel as good. I am not going to make excuses for them like other people. It wasn’t that Kentucky was any better, worse or more talented than them, they just made enough plays to win and in the end that is all that matters.
This isn’t like the BCS (thankfully that is dead now), you don’t win the NCAA Championship just because of fancy record, you have to grind your way to six victories and you can’t sugarcoat that, no matter what conference you are in.