WICHITA, Kan. — A couple of years ago, Wichita State Coach Gregg Marshall trotted out the motto “Play Angry” to encourage and inspire his perpetually overlooked and undervalued team.

Might be time to resurrect it.

The Shockers were given the No. 10 seed in the South Region, which just might trump anybody getting left out as the biggest snub of the NCAA tournament. Wichita State hasn’t lost since January and twice avenged that defeat, rolled through the Missouri Valley Tournament, and just about every advanced metric puts the Shockers among the best teams in the country.

The selection committee disagreed, putting the Shockers in a first-round game against seventh-seeded Dayton. The winner will likely face No. 2 seed Kentucky in the next round.

“I’m just glad they didn’t forget about (us),” Marshall said with only mild sarcasm. “I was starting to think they might forget about us and not put us in at all.”

The Shockers (30-4) are used to getting a raw deal in March.

They were a ninth seed four years ago when they rode the chip on their shoulder all the way to the school’s first Final Four in nearly five decades. They gave eventual national champion Louisville all it could handle, too, before falling 72-68. The following year, they became the first team since UNLV in 1991 to enter the dance unbeaten, only to face red-hot and under-seeded Kentucky in the second round. The eighth-seeded Wildcats won a nail-biter before advancing to the national title game.

Wichita State was the seventh seed the following year and promptly bumped Indiana and No. 2 seed Kansas from the field. Last year, the Shockers were relegated to a play-in game. They won, of course, and beat sixth-seeded Arizona before the grind of three games in three days caught up to them.

In other words, the selection committee has rarely been kind to Wichita State.

“It’s kind of par for the course,” said the Shockers’ Landry Shamet, adding that low expectations have followed this team all year following the graduation of stars Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet.

“This whole year we’re supposed to have fallen off. The downfall of Wichita State. Armageddon, basically,” Shamet said. “Everybody here already has that chip. That’s the unique thing about these guys. Coach recruits those kinds of guys with that, and enhances that vibe when they get here.”

As for the No. 10 seed?

“We thought we were higher than that,” Shamet said, “so I guess that will add to that.”

It’s not just that Wichita State was given a low seed, Shamet said. It’s that the Shockers were also given a low seed in what is perhaps the toughest of the four regions.

North Carolina’s strong finish earned it the No. 1 seed in the South, while the Wildcats and their bevy of NBA prospects top the bottom half of the bracket. Third-seeded UCLA has potential No. 1 draft pick Lonzo Ball and March darling Butler is the No. 4 seed.

There is never an easy path to the Final Four, but that road is especially brutal.

“So many crazy things happen to a bracket,” Marshall said. “If we have to go through them,” he added, “so be it.”

NOTRE DAME: The Fighting Irish basketball team is doing something the football team hasn’t been able to do in recent years: thrive in big games.

The Fighting Irish (25-9), who this past weekend advanced to the Atlantic Coast Conference title game for the second time in three years, head into the NCAA tournament as the only team to make it to the Elite Eight each of the past two seasons.

“When the lights have been brightest, we’ve been in a rhythm lately where we just love it, embrace it and deliver in it,” Coach Mike Brey said. “I think it’s gotten to be a little bit of the tradition of the program where it’s handed down to the younger guys and they’re dragged along by the older guys that have been part of it. I really see that with our upperclassmen now. It’s kind of what we do. We deliver when the lights are brightest.”


MOUNT ST. MARY’S 67, NEW ORLEANS 66: Junior Robinson scored 23 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 1:27 to play, and the Mountaineers (20-15) topped the Privateers (20-12) in the opening game of the First Four at Dayton, Ohio.

Robinson carried the Mountaineers to only their second NCAA tournament win.

They’ll head to Buffalo, New York, to play defending national champion Villanova in the East Regional on Thursday.

Mount St. Mary’s led most of the way, but New Orleans pulled off a comeback. The Privateers had a chance for a final shot, but Erik Thomas’ inbound pass with 2.6 seconds left was off target and stolen by Chris Wray to clinch it.