When a No. 9 seed reaches the Final Four, there's bound to be some remarkable historical significance. When that school comes from a mid-major conference, that's magnified. Take a look at the facts and numbers to put Wichita State's Cinderella run into perspective.
1. Low seeds make a Final Four longshot
Wichita State is just the second No. 9 seed to make the Final Four, joining Penn in 1979. The Shockers hope their luck is better than the Quakers' 24 years ago. That year, Penn lost by 34 to Michigan State in the national semifinal. Only three teams have reached the Final Four as a lower seed than the Shockers. None advanced to the final.
Lowest Seeds in Final Four
NCAA Tournament History
Villanova was an 8 seed in 1985 when it won the title, the lowest seed to do so.
Wichita State is also the first team from the Missouri Valley to make the Final Four since the Larry Bird-led Indiana State team in 1979. That year, the Sycamores lost to Michigan State in the national title game. It’s just the 3rd time that a Missouri Valley team has reached the national semifinals in the last 40 seasons (1975 Louisville).
2. Defensive dominance
Perhaps overshadowed by Syracuse’s stifling run, Wichita State is holding opponents to 34.3 percent from the field in the tournament. Among those who have played multiple games, only the Orange (28.9 percent) have kept opponents lower.
Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, La Salle and Ohio State have all experienced one of their three worst shooting games of the season against Wichita State. Gonzaga hadn’t shot below 41.5 percent prior to its 35.6 percent effort in the Round of 32.
3. Back after a long Final Four gap
Wichita State is in the Final Four for the first time since 1965. That 48-year gap between Final Four appearances is the fifth longest of any school with multiple appearances. After making it in 1941, Wisconsin waited 59 years before making its next Final Four. That’s the longest streak. Texas (56), Stanford (56) and West Virginia (51) also endured longer streaks than Wichita State.
Most Years Between Final Four App
Schools With Multiple Final Fours
That 1965 Wichita State squad was led by Dave “The Rave” Stallworth and Nate Bowman, both first round picks in the NBA draft. You’ll be forgiven if you’ve forgotten that squad. After all, even current Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall was only 2 years old.
But you may have heard about one of the Shockers’ games. After losing to UCLA, Wichita State faced Princeton in the third-place game. Future U.S. Senator Bill Bradley scored a Final Four record 58 points to lead Princeton to the win.
4. A new cast of players
At the beginning of the season, it wouldn’t have been a great surprise that a team would make the Final Four after losing its top five scorers. No one thought it would be Wichita State and not Kentucky. The Shockers didn’t receive a single vote in the preseason AP poll, while the Wildcats were third.
Marshall’s squad has been boosted by a pair of transfers. Cleanthony Early transferred from Sullivan Junior College in New York, while Malcolm Armstead sat out last season after transferring from Oregon. Early and Armstead are the Shockers top two scorers this season.