Rust or rest---
It will be 12 days since the Shockers last played when they line up with Cal Poly tonight in St. Louis. Whether that layoff is good or bad for a team is usually determined after their next game. For instance, two years ago the Shockers took about 35 minutes to get going against VCU in their opening NCAA game, one they eventually lost—so, of course, they were rusty. Last year they played brilliantly in their opener with Pittsburgh so, of course, the rest was great for them. So, rust or rest? It’s all about the result.
The Mustangs are an interesting team. An 18 game winner last year, a lot was expected out of them this season, but injuries and a tough non-conference schedule took its toll. Arizona, Pitt, Stanford and Oregon all hammered them and Delaware, another NCAA Tournament team, beat them by ten.
10-19 before entering the Big West Conference Tournament as the seventh seed the Mustangs have caught fire and won four straight. The stingiest defensive team in their conference, they’re coming off their highest point total and shooting percentage of the season in their win over Texas Southern two nights ago in Dayton.
Much like the Shockers, Cal Poly really takes care of the ball averaging less than 10 turnovers a game. They had only one in the first half against Texas Southern the other night, although Southern didn’t do much to defend them in that game
Chris Eversley is their go to guy, a 6’7 wide body out of Chicago who’s scored over 1,200 points in his career. This is a group that should play loose because they certainly don’t have anything to lose. 16 seeds are 0-117 all –time against number ones. Only seven times has a 16 played a 1 seed by less than ten points, in fact, the average margin of victory in the 1/16 matchup is better than 24 points.
Line of the day---
“They (Wichita State) play angry and for us to have a chance, we have to be furious”.
--Cal Poly Coach Joe Callero on his team’s matchup with the Shockers
Totally off the point---
In popular culture Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo’ two most famous alums are John Madden and ---wait for it---Weird Al Yankovic.
History in the making?
A win by Wichita State tonight would give them the best start in college basketball history at 35-0.
Not many people are giving K-State a very good chance against Kentucky. I hope the ‘Cats don’t try to get into a track meet with them; if they control the tempo at a slower pace their chances go up considerably. Of course, they’ve got to hit shots, but they also have to deal with a considerably larger team on the glass. Beyond that, teams that defend Kentucky and I think K-State can do that tend to frustrate them.
If KU values the ball and defends the three point line they win in a walk over against Eastern Kentucky. If they don’t, things could be far more interesting than Jayhawk fans would like. Bill Self’s team still hasn’t found who they are, especially without Joel Embiid, but they’re still formidable. I like them into the Elite Eight.
I went 12-4 on opening day in my bracket, dropping three of those games in overtime and the other one on Dayton’s last second shot. 12 seeds are now 7-4 against 5 seeds over the last three years of the NCAA and they would have been better than that if North Carolina State hadn’t blown a 16 point second half lead to St. Louis.
The most intriguing near miss was Manhattan’s pushing of Louisville to the final 0:45 seconds. Not to take anything away from the Jaspers, but the Cardinals didn’t look like the defending National Champion. Pittsburgh’s demolition of Colorado took me a little by surprise, probably not as much as former Shocker assistant and Colorado head coach Tad Boyle. Texas needed a last second shot to survive Arizona State and has the look of a two and through team, which is better than the one and done of OU.
I’ll be chatting with WSU color analyst Bob Hull and K-State insider Tim Fitzgerald on Sports Daily this morning, I’d love you to listen.