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Different backgrounds, different roads have made Shockers a team worthy of biggest stage

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    Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall speaks to the media during a news conference at the Final Four of the NCAA college basketball tournament, Thursday, April 4, 2013, in Atlanta. Wichita State plays Louisville in a national semifinal on Saturday. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)The Associated Press

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    Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall greets fans outside Yingling Aviation in Wichita, Kan., Wednesday, April 3, 2013, as he gets ready to board a charter flight to Atlanta where the Shockers will play in the NCAA college basketball tournament's Final Four. (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Fernando Salazar) LOCAL TV OUT; MAGS OUT; LOCAL RADIO OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUTThe Associated Press

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    Wichita State's Carl Hall signs autographsr fans outside Koch Arena in Wichita, Kan., Wednesday, April 3, 2013, as the team gets ready to board a bus to the airport. The Shockers are heading to Atlanta to play in the NCAA college basketball tournament's Final Four. (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Mike Hutmacher) LOCAL TV OUT; MAGS OUT; LOCAL RADIO OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUTThe Associated Press

More than 30 years ago, Cliff Levingston was part of a team at Wichita State loaded with future NBA talent that he believes underachieved, falling just short of the Final Four.

This year, he's been watching a motley group do just the opposite: Without a bona fide star, the Shockers are close to playing for a national championship.

There's Carl Hall, a rugged forward from rural Georgia, and Ron Baker, a small-town Kansas kid. Cleanthony Early came out of a tiny junior college in upstate New York and Ehimen Orukpe arrived from Lagos, Nigeria, by way of Three Rivers Community College in Missouri.

Together, this disparate group of basketball talents knocked off Gonzaga and Ohio State en route to Atlanta, and will try to upend mighty Louisville on Saturday night.