ROGERS PARK — Last season, Wichita State reached its first Final Four since 1965.
But the Shockers may be even more impressive this year, as they haven't lost once in 27 games. They'll try to continue their unbeaten streak at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Loyola University Chicago's Gentile Arena.
"It has been an amazing season," said Wichita State alumnus and Edgewater resident Brian Wells, who owns Crew Bar + Grill, 4804 N. Broadway, in Uptown. "This year, I thought we would be good, but never anticipated going 27-0."
Wells, whose establishment is filled with Shockers memorabilia, will be hosting a pregame party at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
"I have a banner from last year's Final Four that I will be hanging up at Crew on Wednesday to welcome the Shocker fans," said Wells, who grew up in Wichita and moved to Chicago in 1996.
The 49-year-old expects several Wichita State graduates to join him on a Red Line trip to Loyola's Rogers Park campus, which hosts its biggest game of the season so far. Wells, who was named WSU's homecoming king in 1986 and the 1987 "Senior Most Likely to Succeed," also is hoping to have an appearance from Wichita State athletic director Eric Sexton at Crew.
Ravenswood resident Megan Ensley, a 2009 WSU alum, will be at Crew and then the Gentile Arena. Ensley, 26, who is an actor and works at Groupon, said she believes the Shockers can win the NCAA title this year.
"I think after the Final Four last year, they team knew what they needed to do to go all the way, and they're making it happen," she said. "They've got a lot of heart, and they're making people notice.
"Whether you're an alum or a fan, it's great to see Wichita State getting national attention," Ensley added.
The Shockers improved to a school-record 27-0 overall and 14-0 in the Missouri Valley Conference after beating Evansville 84-68 on Sunday. This is Loyola's first season in the conference.
Wichita State, which joins Syracuse as Division I's remaining unbeaten teams, can claim at least a share of the MVC regular-season crown with a victory at Loyola.
Wells said he has bought a pair of new shirts in Wichita State's school colors, yellow and black. He hasn't figured out yet which one he'll wear Wednesday.
"It will be a game-time decision," he said.