After leading Wichita State to a 71-51 win over Illinois State in the MVC Championship on Sunday, Gregg Marshall called out CBS Sports bracketologist Jerry Palm, who said the Shockers needed to win their conference tourney to get an NCAA Tournament bid. Without a conference title, Palm said, the Shockers did not have a resume worthy of an at-large bid.
Marshall was not happy about that.
“Well, he was one of two guys of, I think, 143 bracketologists (who didn’t have us in) . . . and he just kept doubling down with the negativity that we had no chance to get in,” Marshall said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Basically, everyone else had us in comfortably. I just thought that at some point, I had to stand up for my guys. I think with a KenPom of 10 and a Sagarin of 13 and all the other things we had going for us, had we lost on Sunday, we were comfortably in. But I guess when you take a stand and you double down, you just can’t let it go.”
As it stands, No. 20 Wichita State (30-4) is in the tournament for the sixth straight year. Just don’t call the Shockers a mid-major. They’re not. Since 2013, they’ve been to two Sweet 16s, an Elite Eight and a Final Four.
“My response all along has just been watch us play,” Marshall said. “Anyone that knows the game of basketball, when they watch us play, they realize, wow, their size, their athleticism, their skill, how hard they play, not to mention what they’ve accomplished in the last five seasons, that mid-major term goes out the window. I’ve never thought of myself as a mid-major coach, even when I was at Winthrop for nine years. We went to seven NCAA Tournaments . . . (and beat Notre Dame as an 11-seed). I always thought, ‘Hey, we’re equal with the teams we’re playing in this tournament, and we have a great chance to win if we go out and play well.’ That’s just the mindset that we have. We’re not beholden to any Power Five team, and we also don’t underestimate the teams that we play in our league and other folks. That’s how you go 17-1 (in conference).”
Marshall, as usual, will likely receive a lot of interest from Power Five teams looking to fill a head-coaching vacancy this offseason. But Marshall, 54, has only changed jobs once since 1998.
“I don’t let the noise affect me,” Marshall said. “My players obviously don’t let the noise affect them. I would much rather play for a coach that has done so well he has opportunities to leave, as opposed to one of these guys that doesn’t realize in the next couple of days they’re probably going to get a pink slip.”
Marshall said that loyalty and money are the most important factors to consider when accepting a job, followed by the chance to win a national championship. And Marshall, to be sure, believes he can absolutely win a national title at Wichita State – if not this year, then certainly in the years to come.
“We were very close in ’13,” he said. “We led by 12 points almost midway through he second half against Louisville and the game changed a little bit on a few calls and they made a great run and knocked down some big-time shots and we lost in a close game. We had an opportunity in ’13. Our ’14 team had an opportunity. We got a terrible draw with Kentucky as an 8-seed, which was ridiculous. But this year, we have a chance, and I don’t lose anybody off this team. My two seniors are both former walk-ons, so we’ve got all the recruited scholarship players back, plus we’re adding a couple to the stable. We feel like we’re really set up well this season if we get a good draw and we play well and get a whistle here and there and make some shots. Next year, we should be preseason top 15, top 10 maybe. Who knows? It’s going to happen one day. Butler came the closest, but it’s going to happen one day. Don’t be shocked.”