Thursday night, Wichita State captured the N.I.T. title by upsetting Alabama 66-57 in the N.I.T. finals at Madison Square Garden in New York City. With the win, the Shockers became the first Missouri Valley Conference team to win a men's basketball postseason championship since Bradley won the N.I.T. in 1982. Though the the Missouri Valley has a rich and storied history, and though it's been one of college basketball's most prominent Mid Major conferences in the recent past, the league has been perceived as sub-par for the last four seasons. And that bad image has kept the Valley from garnering an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament over that period of time. This year, regular season conference champion Missouri State lost in the Missouri Valley tournament failed to land an NCAA Tournament bid. But with Wichita State winning the N.I.T, and with Creighton facing off against former coach Dana Altman's Oregon Ducks in the College Basketball Invitational (C.B.I.), the Valley has shown well this postseason.
Through his tenure at Wichita State -- and during his earlier days at Winthrop -- Shockers head coach Gregg Marshall has proven to be an outstanding college basketball coach. Over the years, his name has been mentioned frequently in conjunction with head coaching openings at higher profile programs. Whether or not Marshall has actually pursued any of those coaching positions remains unclear. As we've mentioned before, writers like to speculatively throw coaches' names around when writing about coaching vacancies. But for what it's worth, Marshall's name is being thrown around again this year with regard to several of the coaching vacancies at high major schools.
Gregg Marshall a long history of fielding highly competitive teams at Mid Major institutions. Now with an N.I.T. title in tow, he's likely to garner significant interest from Athletic Directors at big name schools with vacancies as he heads to the NABC coaches' convention at the Final Four in Houston.
the first postseason championship for the Shockers' basketball program.