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Wichita State makes Creighton a very popular team

Jackie Carmichael, Joe Ragland, Garrett Stutz

Illinois State’s Jackie Carmichael (32) tries to pull down the rebound between Wichita State’s Joe Ragland (1) and Garrett Stutz (41) in the first half of a Missouri Valley Conference tournament semifinal NCAA basketball game, Saturday, March 3, 2012, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)


Grab a spot on the Creighton bandwagon while you can, because its filling up pretty quickly thanks to Wichita State.

The No. 15 Shockers lost to Illinois State on Saturday in the Missouri Valley semifinals. After Tyler Brown drew a foul with 6.4 seconds left on the clock and knocked down both free throws, Toure’ Murry and Garrett Stutz both missed open jump shots that would have won the game. As it stands, the Redbirds advance with a 65-64 win to face the winner of No. 25 Creighton’s game against Evansville on Saturday evening.

This loss is significant because Wichita State is a lead-pipe lock to make the NCAA Tournament. In fact, if they had won the MVC tourney, we would be talking about whether or not the Shockers deserved a top three seed. As it stands, they look like they will end up somewhere around a five-seed.

But Creighton is a lock for the big dance as well. With both the Shockers and the Bluejays in the MVC title game, it would guarantee that the winner of the league’s automatic bid would already be in the tournament. The Valley would be free of a bid-thief.

Not anymore.

Illinois State will have a chance to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament on Sunday afternoon. And if they do -- whether it comes as a result of beating Creighton or Evansville -- that means that someone, somewhere, is going to see their bubble get burst. Maybe it costs Northwestern their first ever trip to the Big Dance. Maybe it keeps Texas from being able to sneak in and steal a bid. Maybe it makes Colorado State regret all those bad road losses even more.

So yeah.

The number of folks rooting for Creighton tonight and tomorrow just went up exponentially.

One quick comment on the Shockers: I’m not worried. This is Arch Madness. There is a reason it is routinely one of the most exciting tournaments every year. Things like this happen. Often. Given how well the Shockers were playing prior to this game, I think they’re fine.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.