Sure, the Shockers can’t match Ohio State’s financial resources or alumni base. They’ve got everything else necessary to play with the Buckeyes for those 40 minutes — and even pull off one more surprise in their charmed run through March.
“What I love is the fact they’re not really bouncing off the wall,” Marshall said of his Shockers. “They seem to be legitimately unsatisfied thus far. We know we’ve got a great opponent and a tremendous challenge, but at the same time, we’re in that Elite Eight game. We have an opportunity, and our best is going to be hard to beat.”
Wichita State is making its first regional finals appearance since 1981, looking for a spot in its first Final Four since the school’s only previous trip in 1965. The Shockers’ 29 victories match the school record set just two years ago under Marshall, the low-profile, high-energy coach who spent part of Friday fending off questions about UCLA’s job vacancy from eager Los Angeles reporters.
And Wichita State is still burning with confidence from beating top-ranked and top-seeded Gonzaga last weekend — not bad for a team that didn’t win the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, but could get the MVC back to the Final Four for the first time since Larry Bird led Indiana State to the 1979 title game.
“So many non-BCS schools are getting the opportunity to be in the NCAA tournament and prove that they belong — not only belong, but can win the whole thing,” Marshall said. “It’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. The programs then start selling out, raising revenue for the athletic department, and ultimately giving greater visibility to their universities, and what is that worth?”
Ohio State has a good idea of the value of this run.