Around the American: Looking at the conference’s newest member, Wichita State

In this March 10, 2013, file photo, Creighton's Austin Chatman, left, brings the ball past half court as Wichita State's Demetric Williams defends in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the championship of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, in St. Louis. The American Athletic Conference has voted to extend an invitation to Wichita State to join the league. Conference spokesman Bill Potter says the presidents of the conference’s 12 member schools voted unanimously Friday, April 7, 2017, to admit the school in all sports but football. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam, File)

In this March 10, 2013, file photo, Creighton's Austin Chatman, left, brings the ball past half court as Wichita State's Demetric Williams defends in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the championship of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, in St. Louis. The American Athletic Conference has voted to extend an invitation to Wichita State to join the league. Conference spokesman Bill Potter says the presidents of the conference’s 12 member schools voted unanimously Friday, April 7, 2017, to admit the school in all sports but football. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam, File)

The news broke last Friday that the Wichita State Shockers would be joining the American Athletic Conference. Commissioner Mike Aresco spoke to Sports Illustrated the day after the announcement, explaining the move puts the American in position to be a Power 6 conference

Wichita State’s biggest strength is their men’s basketball program. The Shockers will clearly bolster the reputation of American Conference’s basketball league, immediately becoming one of the top talents alongside UConn, Cincinnati and SMU. Led by talented coach Gregg Marshall in his tenth year at the helm, the Shockers have made 14 appearances in the NCAA tournament, reaching the Final Four twice, the Elite Eight four times and the Sweet 16 six times.

The Shockers made their first Final Four appearance in the 2012-2013 season, upsetting top-seeded Gonzaga in the Round of 32, then beating La Salle and Ohio State for a berth in the National Semifinal. They would drop the Final Four game to eventual champion Louisville.

The 2013-2014 season is still considered the best in program history. Wichita State began the season 30-0, earning a #2 ranking in the AP polls. They would become the first school in Division I history to finish the regular season at 31-0. Their performance earned the Shockers the top-seed in the Midwest region of the NCAA tournament. Wichita State would blow out their first round opponent, becoming the first team in college basketball history to start a season 35-0, but the Shockers would bow out in an instant classic second round game to the Kentucky Wildcats. Kentucky would make it to the National Finals and lose to the UConn Huskies.

The Shockers have had consistent success since their Final Four visits under Gregg Marshall.

Notable alumni from the program include Cliff Levingston, Xavier McDaniel, Cleanthony Early, Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker.

The women’s basketball program, on the other hand, is lacking the same success. The women have won their conference title in 2013, 2014 and 2015, but have never done anything of significance in the NCAA tournament.

The men’s golf program has won 20 Missouri Valley Conference Championships: 1946, 1977–79, 1984, 1986, 1999–2001, 2003–2004, 2006, 2008–15.

Aside from the immense talent the men’s basketball team will bring, the Shockers will provide a top-notch baseball team to the American Conference. They are college baseball’s most winning team over the past 31 years. They have one national championship in 1989, and are three time runner-ups.


Connor Donahue is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering men’s ice hockey. He can be reached via email at connor.f.donahue@uconn.edu. He tweets @conn_donahue.