WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) -- It's an age-old debate: is it better to win the NIT Championship or just make an appearance in the first-round of the NCAA Tournament?
"For us, in 2011, [winning the NIT] was better than going to the NCAA tournament and losing in the first round."
Gregg Marshall is using his own historical perspective here. His 2011 team fell short of his expectations, missing the NCAA Tournament, but still managing to cut down the nets of one of the most famous arenas in the nation.
His 2018 team was built to make a deep run, yet fell to Marshall in the round of 64.
"I want to say it was the most disappointing end of a team that I've coached that we did not achieve what we were expected to achieve," he said.
After starting the season with a loss at home to Louisiana Tech and beginning the conference slate 1-6, Marshall's current team is overachieving by still playing meaningful basketball in April.
"And the way they're approaching it, that's the cool thing," he said. "Once we knew we were in the NIT and had a chance to take Markis [McDuffie] home, basically we've played some of our best basketball."
Fun is a result of winning, and this team has won 14 of its last 17 games, but it also appears the team is winning because the guys are having fun.
"We all had a lot of fun and so has coach, and when you see your coach having fun, that motivates you to do the best you can for him," senior Markis McDuffie said.
Marshall described his group as 'bright-eyed and bushy-tailed,' and complimented their willingness to accept the process. He admitted he's also having more fun this year than he had during last year's grueling season.
"It's been great to see them enjoy practicing and playing this long into the season," Marshall said. "They're really soaking it up and I'm just enjoying watching it and having the same experience. Now we've got to change our focus from taking Markis home to ending our season with a win."
Wichita State faces Lipscomb Tuesday night at 6:00 CT from Madison Square Garden in the semifinals of the NIT.