(SportsNetwork.com) - Wichita State is the first team to enter the NCAA Tournament undefeated since UNLV did it in 1991, and for their efforts, the Shockers were awarded with the Big Ten regular season champs, a perennial title contender and the reigning national champions in their portion of the bracket.
The Shockers finished their challenging non-conference schedule and Missouri Valley Conference slate unscathed, and their 34-0 record garnered them a No. 1 seed in the Midwest Regional.
Last year Wichita State surprised most by reaching the Final Four as a No. 9 seed, but this season the target has been squarely on their back since November.
No one has solved Gregg Marshall's bunch just yet, but the road through March gets decidedly more difficult over the next few weeks, especially considering two more of last year's Final Four programs reside in their region.
Michigan (25-8), which captured the Big Ten regular season crown outright and lost in the tourney title game to Michigan State, is the second seed in the Midwest Region and will first square off against Southern Conference-champion Wofford (20-12), while Duke and Louisville come in as the No. 3 and 4 seeds, respectively.
The Blue Devils (26-8), who lost in the ACC final to Virginia on Sunday, will first meet Mercer (26-8), while the Cardinals (29-5), who easily ran through the American Athletic Conference Tournament, open against Manhattan (25-7).
Mercer upended last year's Cinderella team, Florida Gulf Coast, in the Atlantic Sun final, and Manhattan took home the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tourney title.
Louisville, of course, eked past Wichita State in the national semifinal last year en route to winning the national championship against Michigan. The Cardinals won both games by a combined 10 points.
Three of the "First Four" games come form the Midwest Region, including Texas Southern (19-14) and Cal Poly (13-19) battling for the right to play Wichita State in the second round.
Tennessee (21-12) and Iowa (20-12) will vie as No. 11 seeds, while the NC State-Xavier winner will play fifth-seeded Saint Louis (26-6). Both NC State and Xavier had 21 wins on the season.
The underclassmen-heavy Kentucky Wildcats (24-10) will be tested against Kansas State (20-12) in the Midwest's 8-9 matchup, and Texas (23-10) and Arizona State (21-11) square off in the 7-10 meetings.
Massachusetts (24-8) gets the Tennessee-Iowa winner in the second round.