The state of Kansas only has three NCAA Division 1 college basketball schools. In this 2012-2013 season, basketball fans in the Sunflower State are enjoying quality over quantity from all three programs. The Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, and Wichita State Shockers have a combined record of 48-5, a .906 winning percentage.
In the current AP Poll, The Jayhawks are currently ranked 4th, the Wildcats 16th, and the Shockers have been garnering votes. All three teams should move up in the next poll. In the rivals.com RPI, Kansas is presently ranked third, WSU 13th, and KSU 31st. All in all, it has been a very successful season for all three state schools. It goes even deeper than that. KU and KSU are tied for first in the Big 12 and WSU tops the tough Missouri Valley.
This is nothing new for these schools. Everyone knows of the historic successes enjoyed by the Jayhawks – they are well documented. Kansas State’s program is rich in tradition as well. The Wildcats are in the top 40 in all time victories with 1,537, have 17 conference championships, 26 NCAA tournament appearances, and four Final Fours. KSU has also featured six First or Second Team All-Americans on the hardwood. WSU has 1,404 victories, seven conference championships, nine NCAA tournament appearances and one Final Four. The Shockers have three First Team All-Americans. Sprinkle in several top level coaches over their histories and these three programs can compete with just about any state’s top three schools.
Another great thing about these three schools is that they all play in electric, fan friendly atmospheres. Each feature a tough home court advantage that makes it very hard for opponents to leave with victories. While Allen Fieldhouse is nationally renown, both Bramlage Coliseum and Koch Arena are well known venues locally and within their conferences, even if they don’t always get the recognition they deserve nationally.
All three teams certainly look like NCAA tournament material this season. It is easier for KU and KSU because of the conference they play in, but the Missouri Valley should easily get more than one school in the 2013 tourney. There is no reason to think the Shockers can’t earn one of these spots. The MVC is a rough and tough conference where it is so hard to win on the road. With high RPI rankings for all three schools, only a complete breakdown figures to prevent any of these schools from adding to their NCAA Tournament histories.
None of the fans of these three teams should have to worry about major breakdowns. All have talented rosters headed by good, tested coaches. Fans of college basketball in this state, regardless of where their team loyalties may lie, should be proud of the level of excellence shown by the programs this season. As hard as it may be to do so, fans should support the other in-state schools, except, of course, when they face each other. Nationally, not all of these schools receive the recognition they deserve, so it is up to us Kansans to trumpet the successes of KU, KSU and WSU.
Of course this week, Kansans will be treated to a clash of rivals when Kansas State hosts Kansas this Tuesday, not only for local bragging rights, but also for the lead in the Big 12 race. Each school is is nationally ranked and undefeated in conference play. The atmosphere is sure to be superb and the crowd deafening when the Wildcats and the Jayhawks take the floor in this important edition of the Sunflower Showdown.
On a personal level, I would love to see annual KU/WSU and KSU/WSU match-ups. It would be great for us fans and a lot of fun for those schools and their players and staffs. It would create great game atmospheres and would help develop these local rivalries on the court. The excitement these games would generate would be great for college basketball in the state of Kansas. These schools should work toward that goal and make a lot of fans very happy. In the meantime, Kansans get to enjoy the great basketball KU, KSU and WSU are playing this season. No state currently has it any better.