While teams like No. 13 La Salle and No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast are celebrating and relishing their rare and improbably trips to the Sweet 16 of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, the No. 9 Wichita State Shockers are as cool as the other side of the pillow.
They expected to be here, because they’ve been here before.
“Maybe a lot of people will be surprised that we’re here — but we’re not,” Shockers guard Tekele Cotton said Saturday after his team upset No. 1 Gonzaga. “We’re confident that we can match up with any team from anywhere.”
But, beating top seeds to get to the Sweet 16 isn’t the only NCAA Tournament phenomena Wichita State is familiar with. The Shockers are also familiar with facing a double-digit seed in the second weekend of the tourney while being seeded higher than a 5-seed as well.
In 2006, the Shockers were the third victim to the triumphant No. 11 George Mason Patriots run to the Final Four. When those teams met in the Verizon Center in the nation’s capital, the Shockers were a 7 seed in coming off a triumphant upset over the No. 2 Tennessee Volunteers that were then led by the up-and-coming head coach, Bruce Pearl.
While this 2013 Shockers team is certainly not the same club that fell to Mason seven years ago, head coach Gregg Marshall was at the helm of Winthrop at the time, the Wichita State program and university still expects this type of success.
And, when the Shockers appear in the Sweet 16 this time around, they certainly won’t want to come away with a loss, either.