With Saturday's win over Missouri State, the Wichita State Shockers became the first Division I men's basketball team since St. Joseph's in 2003-04 to finish the regular season undefeated. The Shockers (31-0, 18-0 MVC) jumped out to an 18-point lead by halftime on Saturday and ultimately won 68-45 for a sixth consecutive double-digit victory.
In addition to making history with their undefeated regular season, the Shockers also set a school record for most wins in a single season. Last year's team broke the same record, winning 30 games on the way to a Final Four appearance.
While last seasons's epic run was more than anyone could have expected, Wichita State won't be catching fans or opponents off guard this season. A soft schedule obviously helped the Shockers, but plenty of teams have faced easier slates since 2003-04 and none of them went undefeated.
In fact, only two teams have pieced together undefeated regular seasons since 1978-79, when Larry Bird led Indiana State to a 33-0 record, before falling to Magic Johnson's Michigan State Spartans in the national championship game. Neither of those two teams—St. Joe's in 2003-04, UNLV in 1990-91—won the national championship, with St. Joe's falling in the Elite Eight and UNLV losing to Duke in a major Final Four upset.
The Shockers will thus look to become the first truly undefeated team since the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers accomplished the task under legendary coach Bob Knight.
Six other squads have completed an undefeated championship season, with UCLA accounting for four of those campaigns, in 1963-64, 1966-67, 1971-72 and 1972-73. Rounding out the seven-member list are the 1956-57 North Carolina Tar Heels and 1955-56 University of San Francisco Dons, with the latter team boasting eventual NBA Hall of Famers Bill Russell and K.C. Jones.
The Shockers will have their shot at joining the aforementioned teams in basketball lore, but first they need to secure a No. 1 seed. A slip-up in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament would likely resign Wichita State to a No. 2 seed, as many observers already believe that the unbeaten Shockers are unworthy of top slotting.