Gregg Marshall's Wichita State basketball team is geared up to make some noise in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
The Wichita State Shockers struggled out of the gate to a 2-2 record overall after and overtime loss in November to Temple, but went on a run that saw them win 16 of their next 17 games en route to 27-5 overall record that included a regular season Missouri Valley Conference Championship. Though the Shockers were upset in the MVC Tournament Semi-Finals by Illinois State, they had done enough to prove themselves, receiving a five seed in this year's NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid.
This year's squad is a true team effort as six players in their rotation average at least 8.3 points per game. Leading the way is 7'0" center Garrett Stutz, from North Kansas City High School. The senior averages 13.5 points per game, 8.5 rebounds per game, in addition to shooting 82.1% from the free-throw line. For his efforts he was named to Missouri Valley All-Conference First Team.
Also garnering All-Conference honors were senior guards Joe Ragland and Toure` Murry. Ragland was a member of the second team, while Murry received third-team honors.
Of the five losses on the year, three were to teams that made the NCAA Tournament (Temple, Alabama, and Creighton). The other two were a triple overtime loss at Drake, and the one-point tournament loss to Illinois State.
Defining wins that stick out to the credibility of this team include defeating Pac-12 Tournament Champion Colorado, a 19-point victory over UNLV, and thumpings on the road at both Creighton and Davidson.
If there is another mid-major that is charged to make a run deep into this year's NCAA Tournament, Wichita State may just be that team. Wichita State hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament since their Sweet Sixteen run in 2006, but this squad has tournament experience, winning the 2011 NIT Title with a 66-57 victory over Alabama last year.