The Garden City Telegram
4/2/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Shock value

Wichita State makes point in impressive tourney run.

College basketball fans in Kansas saw March Madness take yet another unexpected turn this year.

With Kansas and Kansas State earning high seeds in the NCAA tournament, Wichita State was overlooked by many.

Big mistake. The Shockers did just that — shock the sports world — by earning a spot in the Final Four for the first time in 48 years.

The Shockers' run has been all the more interesting for southwest Kansans, as Wichita State features former Scott City High School standout Ron Baker, a redshirt freshman who's made huge contributions in the Big Dance.

Kansas and K-State, meanwhile, exited the NCAA tourney relatively early.

Interestingly, Wichita State's postseason surge came not long after the question of why the two bigger universities in the Sunflower State don't bother to schedule games annually with Wichita State. The issue of Kansas and K-State not playing Wichita State even drew the attention of state lawmakers, as a proposal to force the schools to play materialized during the legislative session.

The schools should indeed play each year, but it shouldn't take a mandate from the Kansas Legislature to make that happen.

Kansas coach Bill Self didn't sound too interested, however, when earlier this season he said playing Wichita State away from Allen Fieldhouse wouldn't help his program because of lost gate receipts.

But schedules shouldn't be crafted simply with revenue in mind, especially when there's potential for such good in-state rivalries. In this case, the games should be played because they would be good for Kansas, a state with passionate college basketball fans from border to border.

For now, every Kansan at least should find it easy to get behind the Shockers in their quest for a national title. It's a tall task, as they'll next face the tournament's overall top seed, Louisville, in the Final Four.

But knowing No. 9 seed Wichita State eliminated three higher-seeded teams in Pittsburgh, Gonzaga and Ohio State in the West Region, it's safe to say the Shockers won't be intimidated Saturday in Atlanta.

They're on a roll. Don't count out the only Kansas team still standing.