There are a lot of bluebloods — Kentucky and North Carolina, to name two — in the Sweet 16. Notre Dame has a rich athletics history, too. Xavier and Arizona have blue in their color schemes, too. Ditto West Virginia.
Wichita State is the black sheep of the four games on Thursday. In fact, the team’s colors are black and sunflower yellow.
Well-known former Shockers include Xavier McDaniel, Cliff Levingston and Cheese Johnson.
Here are five things you may not know about Wichita State:
• The school was formerly known as Fairmount College. (No, the Fighting Falcons of Fairmont State University are in West Virginia — 1,083 miles to the east.) Initially, Fairmount College was referred to as “Young Ladies’ College,” “Wichita Ladies College” and “Congregational Female College.” Imagined as the “Vassar of the West” and nonsectarian in nature, Fairmount College would admit women 12 years and older who were “able to read, write, spell and recite the parts of speech,” according to the WSU website.
However, the college for women never opened its doors. Fairmount College (for men and women) opened on the same site in 1895, with funding by the Congregational Education Society. In 1926, CES trustees gave it as a gift to the city of Wichita. This act gave rise to the municipal University of Wichita, funded through taxes paid by citizens. In 1964, the University of Wichita became Wichita State University.
Today, Fairmount College represents the history of the liberal arts and sciences college that was cornerstone to the development of WSU.
• Wichita State began playing basketball in 1906, with Willis Bates head coach of the “Wheatshockers.” The team’s inaugural game — a 37-10 loss to Washburn — was played in the basement of Fairmount Hall. Wichita State’s first postseason appearance came in 1953-54. Ralph Miller’s squad fininshed 27-4, including an 88-64 loss to Bowling Green in the first round of the NIT.
The Shockers’ first NCAA tournament appearance came in 1963-64, Miller’s final season. WSU lost 94-86 to Kansas State to cap a 23-6 campaign.
• Eddie Fogler was the Wichita State coach from 1986-89. He went 22-11 in his first season, the program’s high-water mark for victories in a coach’s first year. A longtime assistant to Dean Smith at North Carolina, Fogler reached the postseason his first seven seasons as a head coach — three with the Shockers and four with Vanderbilt.
Fogler won the NIT championship his first season with Vandy (1989-90). After four years, he led South Carolina for eight seasons and made the postseason four times.
• From 1989-90 through 1999-2000, the Shockers had three coaches — Mike Cohen (three seasons), Scott Thompson (4) and Randy Smithson (4) — who combined for one winning season and zero postseason appearances. Mark Turgeon was hired in 2000 and three seasons later returned Wichita State to the postseason with an NIT berth. In 2006, WSU was back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1988 and made it to the Sweet 16 before losing to George Mason 63-55.
Turgeon spent four seasons at Texas A&M before accepting the head coaching position at Maryland prior to the 2011-12 season. The Terps lost to West Virginia 69-59 in the third round on March 22.
• Gregg Marshall took the reins of the Wichita State program for 2007-08 and the Shockers have enjoyed unprecedented success. This is the fourth consecutive season WSU has been in the NCAA tournament. As a No. 9 seed the Shockers made it to the Final Four in 2012-13 before losing to eventual national champion Louisville 72-68.
That was the Shockers’ first final four appearance since Gary Thompson’s 1964-65 squad, which also lost in the semifinals to the eventual national champion, UCLA. (Wichita State also lost its consolation game to Princeton 118-82.)