Shockers 1-seed? (03/06/14)

By John Ewing
Does Wichita State deserve a No. 1 seed? What would the Shockers record be if they played in a Power Conference?


 
Wichita State finished the regular season a perfect 31-0. If the Shockers can win the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, they would be the first team to enter the NCAA Tournament undefeated since UNLV in 1991. All very impressive, but does Wichita State deserve a No. 1 seed?
 
To help answer that question, let's compare the Shockers to a fellow Sunflower State powerhouse - Kansas. The Jayhawks have faced the most difficult schedule in the country. That brutal slate included games against Duke, Villanova, Florida, New Mexico and San Diego State leading up to Big 12 conference play. With a difficult schedule comes losses. Kansas is 23-7 but, like Wichita State, the Jayhawks won their conference.
 
In the most recent iteration of Bracketology, Joe Lunardi projects both Wichita State and Kansas to be No. 1 seeds. Few argue against Kansas as a No. 1 seed by virtue of the Jayhawks' strength of schedule and by winning the Big 12, the most difficult conference in the country, easily. The same cannot be said for Wichita State and its strength of schedule.
 
Basketball fans and analysts alike have hyped the Shocker’s strength of schedule (No. 132), or lack thereof, to diminish Wichita State's achievements. Detractors also argue that Wichita State would not perform at the same level if it played in a "Power Conference".
 
To find out, we fired up the Predictalator. We switched Wichita State for Kansas and replayed the entire season 50,000 times, giving the Shockers the same schedule the Jayhawks have faced this season.
 
After 50,000 simulations, Wichita State, playing in the Big 12 as Kansas, finished with an average record of 22.3 wins and 8.7 losses. We project the Shockers to win the Big 12 by two games. This is similar to the performance we saw from the Jayhawks this season. Kansas is 23-7 and has a three game lead in the Big 12.
 
Wichita State is not a fraud; however, it does take a lot of luck to finish a season undefeated. When we simulate Wichita State’s actual 31-0 season again, we would expect them, on average, to lose five games.
 
What does this all mean? The Shockers are among the best teams in the country and if they played in a Power Conference this season we could reasonably expect their performance to match those being considered for top seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
 
Below are the projected records for Wichita State had the Shockers played the schedules of other top programs in Power Conferences. 

Conference Wichita State as Proj. Record Conference Finish
ACC Virginia 23.2 - 7.8 2nd
Big 12 Kansas 22.3 - 8.7 1st
Big Ten Michigan 21.4 - 8.6 2nd
Pac-12 Arizona 22.8 - 8.2 1st
SEC Florida 24.1 - 6.9 1st