Reporting Matt Ryan
Road to Atlanta:
73-55 over Pittsburgh
76-70 over Gonzaga
72-58 over La Salle
70-66 over Ohio State
Last Final Four Appearance: 1965
Figurehead: Gregg Marshall originally made a name for himself at Winthrop, when that program made seven tournament appearances during his nine year tenure. He has helped continue Wichita State’s success as a mid-major power. The Shockers won the NIT in 2011, made the NCAA Tournament last year, and are now two wins away from a national title.
Star Player: Cleanthony Early has made quite the impact during his first year in Division 1 college basketball. He was a two-time NCJAA Division III Player of the Year at Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake, New York, before arriving in Wichita. Early is the Shockers leading scorer (13.7 points per game) and ranks second on the team in rebounds and blocked shots.
X Factor: Ron Baker missed six weeks of regular season action due to a stress fracture and since his return the Shockers are 6-1. Their most recent loss came against Creighton in the MVC tournament finals.
Four Famous Alumni: Bill Parcells, Xavier McDaniel, Joe Carter, and Paul Wight.
Key Stat: Wichita State has attempted less shots than their opponents in the NCAA Tournament (214 to 249), but has gotten to the free throw line more often (109 to 76).
Legacy: Ninth-seeded Wichita State would become the lowest seed to ever win the Final Four and the first Missouri Valley Conference school to cut down the nets, since Henry Iba’s Oklahoma A&M teams repeated as national champions in 1945 and 1946.
Why Wichita State Will Cut Down the Nets: The Missouri Valley Conference runner-ups have already proven their championship contender status by knocking off Gonzaga and Ohio State. Wichita State continues their unprecedented run to a national title and denies the Big Ten and Big East of another championship banner.
Why the Shockers Will Come Up Short: Their run to the Final Four will go down as one of the most surprising of all-time, but it will be midnight for Cinderella when they face a Louisville squad riding a 14 game winning streak.