Who would have thought on Selection Sunday that the Missouri Valley Conference’s runner-up would be the West regional champion. The Wichita State Shockers take down a lucky Ohio State Buckeyes team that couldn’t pick up a last-shot victory for the third straight time.
Even though Clones Confidential picked La Salle last week, it was expected that either team would give Ohio State a pretty tough time. Wichita State’s ability to win the assist battle in each of these games, as well as hitting critical 3-point shots, have sent the team to their second Final Four in school history.
In the Shockers’ first appearance, they lost to UCLA in the national semifinal back in 1965.
Let’s take a deeper look into why they’ll be playing in Atlanta next Saturday:
- After going just 2-20 from the perimeter in their blowout against Pittsburgh, they have hit 40 percent or better from 3-point range in their previous three games, including 14-28 in the win over Gonzaga.
- Cleanthony Early has been a beast on the boards consistently, grabbing seven rebounds in each of the four games. Offensively, the man has 57 points in the tournament and was the main source of offense in the first two games.
- Malcolm Armstead, who leads the team in assists (almost four per game), has become the go-to for offense. He shot the ball 21 times against Ohio State while no one else got into double-digits in attempts.
- They’ve hit over 70 points a game in all four tournament games. That’s still above their current average of 69.8 points per game, which is 108th in the nation.
- The main reason they’re still alive is defense. Here’s their opponents’ field goal percentages: Pittsburgh – 35.2, Gonzaga – 35.6, La Salle – 35.7, Ohio State – 31.1.
Truth be told, it’s going to be a hard matchup against Louisville on Saturday. Ohio State was good preparation, and defensively they’ve stepped up in the tournament, but they will be taking on the national favorite to win it all.