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The American Athletic Conference (AAC) unanimously voted to add the Wichita State Shockers to the league starting in the 2017-2018 season. The Shockers will become the 12th team in the AAC, and they will become the first addition to the league since the East Carolina Pirates, Tulane Green Wave, and Tulsa Hurricanes were added in the 2014-2015 season.
The Shockers, who have been coached by Gregg Marshall since the 2007-2008 season, have been in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) since the 1945-1946 season. Their streak of 72 consecutive seasons in the MVC is the longest active streak by any MVC team.
The Shockers are coming off of their sixth straight NCAA men’s basketball tournament appearance. They have won at least one game in the tournament in each of the past five seasons. They reached the Final Four in the 2013 season as a #9 seed, only to lose to the eventual 2013 champion #1 seed Louisville Cardinals by a score of 72-68.
The Shockers started the 2013-2014 season with a 35-0 record, which was the best start in NCAA men’s basketball history at the time. As a #1 seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, they fell to the #8 seed Kentucky Wildcats by a score of 78-76. This past season, the Shockers won the MVC tournament championship over the Illinois State Redbirds by a score of 71-51 and made it to the Round of 32 in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament as a #10 seed, where they were defeated by the #2 seed Kentucky Wildcats by a score of 65-62.
The move from the MVC to the AAC is definitely a step up for Wichita State. Other than the Shockers, the MVC had no NCAA men’s basketball tournament teams this past season. On the other hand, the AAC had two: the Southern Methodist Mustangs and the Cincinnati Bearcats.
It will be interesting to see how Wichita State, who looks like a top 5 or at least a top 10 team heading into the 2017-2018 season, handles the tougher opponents that they will now face on a regular basis. It will also be interesting to see how the NCAA men’s basketball tournament selection committee values the Shockers, since their #10 seed from this past season was a terrible representation of how good they truly are even as a mid-major MVC team.