Gregg Marshall has to pause before he answers the question.

He's four days removed from his Wichita State team's loss to Northern Iowa in the Missouri Valley tournament, putting the Shockers' NCAA Tournament hopes in limbo. In that context, he knows how he'll sound.

"I want you to be clear on this, because I don't want to sound like sour grapes," he told Sports on Earth on Wednesday.

The Shockers, who won the conference's regular-season title by four games, will spend this week doing "light practice" and twiddling their thumbs while the tournament selection committee mulls their case before revealing the 68-team bracket on Selection Sunday.

Is it right for one-bid conferences to promise their spot in the NCAA Tournament to the postseason champion, rather than the regular-season champ?

"To me, it's ridiculous. You value three days vs. three months," Marshall said. "For us, it's nine weeks. That's over two months. It's round robin, nine at home, nine on the road. That's the better judge of who your best team is.

"I've been a proponent for that for a long time. Not just right now." 

This year, Marshall and the Shockers aren't alone. After Wednesday night, 12 conferences had already completed their conference tournaments. Chattanooga was the only top-seeded team to survive its conference's postseason and emerge as champion. 

"Some of those leagues, they give the No. 1 seed home court to try and protect them," Marshall said. "I understand the concept that, no matter how bad your season has been, you still have the hope of the postseason. I understand the carrot. I also understand the money. You're guaranteed an NIT spot now if you win the regular season, which is good. But I think there's got to be more value put on the grind of a conference season."

Marshall readily admits he doesn't have a good solution to how the selection committee can place value on performance within the conference. 

One possibility could be mirroring the football selection committee in prioritizing conference champions when considering at-large bids. They wouldn't be guaranteed a spot, of course, but it might give teams like Wichita State and Monmouth, who went 17-3 in the MAAC but lost the title game, a leg up over middling major conference teams like Michigan, Vanderbilt and Connecticut.

"That wouldn't be bad," Marshall said. "It just needs to be given more consideration. It just needs to." 

The Shockers' specific case is fascinating for several reasons. A rash of injuries this season left them scrambling early in the season. Even after starting senior point guard Fred VanVleet returned from his hamstring injury, he didn't immediately return to form, and WSU stumbled to a 6-5 start with losses to Alabama, Iowa, Tulsa, USC and Seton Hall. 

In the games against Alabama, Iowa and USC -- Wichita State's most important stretch of the season and biggest opportunity to stack up resume bullets -- VanVleet sat.

The Shockers also didn't have Kansas transfer Conner Frankamp, who had to miss the first seven games -- four of them losses -- to fulfill the NCAA's requirement of transfers. 

Regarding the Alabama and USC games, Marshall pointed to two players on the roster who combined for 60 total minutes in the losses and played exactly 15 seconds total in last week's conference tournament. 

Since returning to full strength, but without marquee games to truly earn applause from the committee, Wichita State has run up a 22-3 record, capped by Saturday's loss to Northern Iowa, which also beat North Carolina and Iowa State this season.

Simply put, if the Shockers were judged on their full-strength squad, the tournament would be a given. But their awful start serves as a weight strapped to their ankle. The hot finish struggles to erase the slow start and keep WSU's head above the bubble.

For some bubble teams, there's value in a trip to the NIT, versus a likely first-round NCAA Tournament exit. That couldn't be further from Wichita State's reality. Marshall's senior-laden team already has a Final Four trip in 2013 under its belt. An NIT bid would be an anti-climactic finish to VanVleet and Ron Baker's storied careers. 

"I have no idea how [the committee] conducts its business in that room," Marshall said. "You've heard all year long about LSU and Ben Simmons. You heard it all year long: Ben Simmons, Ben Simmons, Ben Simmons. LSU's had a tough stretch, but a month ago, they were being legitimately considered for an at-large and it was Ben Simmons.

"Well, how about people talking about Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet? These guys have done it for four years. They are college basketball icons, and they've proven they can make deep runs in the NCAA Tournament."

For now, there's nothing for Marshall to do but talk. On Wednesday, he had plans to speak with USA Today, ESPN and CBS in addition to Sports on Earth. 

"I'm not out advertising, but people are interested," he said.

The only other time in his career he's been left to politick like he is now was back in 2011. His 24-8 team was left out of the bracket. None have been left out since. 

That 2011 team? It finished as NIT champion.

More college basketball stories from Sports on Earth

Holy Cross is dancing with 19 losses

Why conference tourneys still exist

Championship week: What to watch

SoE college basketball awards: 2016