The Basketball Power Index, ESPN’s predictive model of team strength, looks at many factors in its rankings. It looks at things such as the past performances of the coach and players on the roster and recruiting rankings, but it also takes into an account the percentage of minutes returning.
Wichita State’s experience was the main reason why the Shockers were ranked as the No. 1 team in the country in the BPI’s initial rankings in July. On Wednesday, BPI released its postseason odds and Wichita State was given a 26 percent chance to reach the Final Four and an 11 percent chance of winning the national championship — both the highest in the country.
Wichita State was given a BPI rating of 12.0, meaning it is 12 points better than the average team on a neutral court. The Shockers return all five starters, their top eight scorers, and close to 89 percent of its minutes from last season’s 31-win team.
“Wichita State, despite being a 10-seed in the NCAA tournament in 2017, actually finished the season — by BPI's measure — as the 15th-best team in the country,” ESPN’s Seth Walder wrote back in July. “And it did so as a team that hardly played its seniors at all, so the Shockers are bringing almost everyone relevant back. In BPI's mind, that's huge. Returning so many minutes after a strong season is a big reason why BPI considers the Shockers to own the fourth-strongest offense and defense in the country, which helped them edge out the likes of Louisville and Villanova in overall BPI.”
Being named favorite to win the national title is the highest praise in an offseason full of praise.
The Shockers received top-10 preseason rankings in the Coaches Poll (No. 8) and the AP Poll (No. 7) — both the highest preseason ranking the program has received in the respective poll in 36 years. Sports Illustrated projected Wichita State to land the No. 1 seed in the Midwest region in the NCAA tournament over Kansas on Tuesday, as well.
Coach Gregg Marshall has never put stock into preseason rankings and has made sure his team is aware of how little he cares before the season-opener on Nov. 10 against Missouri-Kansas City.
“It’s all conjecture,” Marshall said. “That’s nothing that has been proven, so I tell our guys to not believe the hype. We have to get ready to get people’s best shot.”