Wichita State shocking the nation

AJ Dome, Washburn Review

There’s something in the air. Springtime brings March Madness, and that madness brings about feelings of support and competitiveness. Right now, we’re rooting for the underdog.

Now, I must admit that I’m not the biggest follower of March Madness. I don’t slather myself in body paint or buy specialty t-shirts, but I’m considering it this year, because somebody else has made it to the Final Four. It’s an impressive feat. 

I’m even considering going down to Wichita this weekend, to watch Saturday’s game with old friends. Nine-seed Wichita State is pitted against one-seed Louisville, which should be interesting to watch. The Shockers are on a roll, inspiring that Kansas pride I’m feeling all over. It’s a different kind of pride, one that hasn’t been felt since 1965. It’s a nice change from the norm (read: KU). 

My cousin Stan, a newspaper writer in Wichita, overheard a woman and her young daughter talking in a Kansas Sampler store. The daughter pointed to a KU shirt and said “I want a KU shirt.” The mother ushered her away quickly and said “You don’t want a KU shirt. They lost.”

Ouch. At least they tried. 

But the support for WSU has been tremendous. Pizza Hut (a Wichita-based business) will give away free pizzas to all WSU students if they win the title. You can’t lose when there’s free pizza on the menu. 

So, the Shockers have the support behind them, but what do they bring to the table? 

Aggression. They’ve been playing angry, and it’s helped. March Madness is exactly that–madness, for players and fans. Politeness goes by the wayside, and aggression becomes your best friend, especially if you want to win the whole thing as much as they do. Paired with aggression, they have a solid…

Defense. They’ve been a solid brick wall against teams like VCU, Iowa, and Creighton during regular season play. They won those games. Louisville’s defense is equally amazing, so the challenge will be trying to avoid the full-court press. The Shocker’s offense is also doing well, destroying LaSalle and Gonzaga in previous games, and building themselves up for their game against Louisville.

The horrifying injury to Kevin Ware’s leg during Louisville’s last game will set them back, but also inspire them to play harder. A team driven by injury versus a team driven by happy motivation. Should be fun to watch. 

The New York Times’ statistician and blogger Nate Silver gives Louisville the win, with a 55 percent chance. Wichita St. comes in fourth with 4.7 percent, but that’s based on mathematical formulas, not by those undeterminable things like fate and luck and state-wide support. 

So, go ahead and jump on the bandwagon. I am. Go Shockers!