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Gambling site has KU as hypothetical 2-point favorite over Wichita State

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Kansas point guard Naadir Tharpe huddles his teammates in the first half against Iowa State on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas point guard Naadir Tharpe huddles his teammates in the first half against Iowa State on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

Now that Wichita State has completed the perfect regular season, it seems that people are starting to really wonder if the Shockers have what it takes to get back to the Final Four and threaten to become college basketball's first perfect team since Bob Knight's 1976 Indiana squad ran the table and finished 32-0.

There's still a long road ahead for WSU to reach that point — starting with this week's Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in St. Louis — but the signs are starting to point toward more and more people believing it's possible.

For starters, WSU is now considered a virtual lock to be one of the four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. Some folks still need to see WSU win the Valley tourney before they'll anoint them a top seed, but many already are convinced.

Consider ESPN analyst Jay Bilas' justification for ranking WSU 2nd in his latest Bilas Index, which singles out the country's top 68 teams:

“This team is one of four in the nation ranked in the top 25 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Eight of the past 10 NCAA tournament champs have also had that distinction. This is a good team. Period.”

Beyond Bilas' belief in them, the Shockers (31-0) are ranked No. 2 in both major polls, sit 7th in the RPI standings despite a strength of schedule in the triple digits (110), are 4th in the BPI rankings, which takes into account factors such as scoring margin, blowouts and game sites, and 6th in analyst Ken Pomeroy's rankings, which lean heavily on advanced statistics to determine the top teams.

In short, it seems that Wichita State's impressive regular season run has made a believer out of nearly everyone and the only thing left for the Shockers to do is to prove that they're worthy of that in the pressure-packed win-or-go-home atmospheres that await.

With that in mind, and because the strength of their opponents has left many to question how they would match up against the nation's top teams, it seems like everyone wants to speculate on how WSU would fare against the big boys. No place is that more true than in Kansas, where the topic of whether KU and WSU would ever wind up on each other's schedule has gained serious steam throughout the season.

Earlier today, I received an email from the folks at www.bovada.lv, which provided the gambling web site's current odds to win it all and an interesting look at a few imaginary lines if the Shockers were to face 12 of the top teams in the country.

The eighth-ranked Jayhawks (22-7), who still are in the running for a No. 1 seed themselves, are currently the second favorite to win the national championship at 8/1. KU is tied with Arizona (8/1) and behind only Florida (5/1) while staying just ahead of Wichita State (9/1), Duke (10/1), Syracuse (10/1), Michigan State (12/1), Louisville (14/1) and Virginia (14/1) as the top favorites.

As for how Bovada sees a potential match-up between Kansas and Wichita State, — which, most likely, would only happen in the Elite Eight, Final Four or national championship game (wouldn't that be something!) at the earliest — the Jayhawks are listed as a hypothetical two-point favorite.

Here's a quick look at the rest of Bovada's hypothetical Wichita State lines, in which the Shockers are underdogs against six teams, even money against two others and favored against the other four.

Interesting stuff. Here's hoping we get to see at least a couple of the match-ups play out later this month.

HYPOTHETICAL WICHITA STATE LINES (from Bovada.lv)

Wichita State +4 vs. Arizona
Wichita State +4 vs. Florida
Wichita State +3.5 vs. Virginia
Wichita State +3 vs. Duke
Wichita State +2 vs. Kansas
Wichita State +1.5 vs. Wisconsin
Wichita State pk vs. Louisville
Wichita State pk vs. Creighton
Wichita State -1.5 vs. Villanova
Wichita State -1.5 vs. Syracuse
Wichita State -1.5 vs. Michigan
Wichita State -3.5 vs. Cincinnati

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