R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Shockers coach takes up for small conferences
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall is convinced that the NCAA Tournament is stacked against the little guys.
Marshall complained about his Shockers (31-4) getting only a No. 10 seed even though they won 30 games and brought a long winning streak into the tournament. He's not alone among non-Power Five coaches. Cincinnati's Mick Cronin objected to getting a sixth seed despite the Bearcats finishing second in the American Athletic Conference.
Marshall, who took his team to the Final Four in 2013, says the non-Power Five teams get the short stick on seeding every year.
''I mean, I think it's pretty obvious,'' Marshall said on Saturday, while preparing his team to face Kentucky (30-5) in the second round. ''Everybody believes that in this (media) room. If you don't, raise your hand, we can have a discussion.
''Everybody sees it. Everybody knows it. I don't know why they continually do it, but they do. That's just the way it is. I think they keep saying that history - what you've done in the past - doesn't mean anything this year, and they just try to weed us out, if you will.''
The tournament was void of big upsets in the first round, with the top four seeds in each region advancing. Wisconsin pulled off the first big upset on Saturday, beating top-seeded Villanova 65-62.
Villanova won the tournament last season, providing a non-Power Five champion. But the Big East is among the best basketball conferences in the country, with 70 percent of the teams getting tournament bids this year.
Marshall's team was given one of the best chances of breaking through the major conferences and winning it all. The Shockers reached the Final Four before losing to Louisville 72-68 in 2013. A year later, they were 35-0 when they lost to Kentucky 78-76 in the second round, a game remembered as one of the tournament's best in recent years.
''What I thought was really ironic that year is we were such a polarizing team,'' Marshall said. ''We deserve a No. 1 seed, we don't deserve a No. 1 seed - and you're either on one side of the fence or the other. Then we get the No. 1 seed, but we get Kentucky as an eight (seed). I think they hedged their bet a little bit.
''But in the end, it took a loss to validate our team, which I think is really ironic and sad.''
Marshall expects a champion from outside of the ''Power Six'' conferences someday.
''It's going to happen one day, unless they decide to exclude it and break off and have a difference tournament or whatever,'' he said.
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