“The thing about Wichita State which we want to emulate most is they rarely, rarely take any plays off. They have very, very good players but they are dialed in, and I think that's what separates them."
---Joe Callero, Cal Poly coach on playing Wichita State
---will it take for the Shockers to stop surprising opposing coaches? You get the sense that Wichita State is still proving itself as skeptics wait for the other shoe---err, sneaker to drop. I thought it was interesting that midway through the first half against Cal Poly some pundits were decrying the Mustangs as the worst of the 16 seeds, yet , as a 16 ½ point underdog, Cal Poly was given the best chance of any of the four 16 seeds to pull the upset. So, yes, Vegas was also relatively skeptical of WSU, by the way, the Shockers supplied the most lopsided win of any of the top seeds. Wichita State is an early three and a half point favorite over Kentucky tomorrow.
The Shockers simply clamped down on Cal Poly, not allowing them to breathe on offense. WSU contests virtually everything an opposing team does and while they didn’t create a ton of turnovers yesterday they disrupted the Mustangs to the point of ineffectiveness. Cleanthony Early gets props for outscoring the Mustangs by himself in the first half, but if the Shockers had been a little more efficient shooting the ball they could have cleared the bench midway through the first half.
How weird was it to see so few fans in the Scottrade Center for tipoff last night? Apparently, officials had just 40 minutes to clear the building of nearly 18,000 fans between afternoon and evening sessions. It took until midway through the first half to get people re-seated and by then the Shockers had already taken care of most of its business. I can’t imagine how angry some fans are to pay a premium for tickets for an event they can’t even get seated for in a timely manner. The cynic would say that the NCAA doesn’t care---they’ve got their money and the network, which has over a billion dollars invested, wants the prime time game to tip off on schedule. Who do you think wins out in that scenario?
It was far too interesting for KU yesterday against Eastern Kentucky which was hitting shots while the ‘Hawks were turning it over. Jamari Traylor gave Kansas a huge boost with a double-double in just 22 minutes of play. But I was happiest for Wichita’s Conner Frankamp who had a season high ten points in a season high 25 minutes, he also assisted four times without a turnover. There’s no doubt that the freshman will have a good career in Lawrence, but can he continue to be a ‘guy’ in the post season?
Kansas got a boost, I think, by Stanford’s win over New Mexico (which is fast becoming first round fodder in this tournament), so all they need is a win over a ten seed to reach another Sweet 16.
Full disclosure—I went 12-4 in my bracket yesterday for a second straight day.
Shame on me for picking against my buddy Brad Underwood, the head coach at Stephen F. Austin, who won for the 29th straight time against VCU. I still can’t figure out why a kid flies out at a three point shooter with a four point lead in the waning seconds—either can VCU coach Shaka Smart. The ensuing four point play, to force overtime, will haunt Virginia Commonwealth all summer.
Mercer’s win over Duke is what makes March so cool. Almost as cool as Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski coming into the Mercer locker room to congratulate the Bears afterwards.
I’ve never seen a winning coach so sad afterwards as I did Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg announcing that his Cyclones had lost Georges Niang for the rest of the tourney.
Don’t look now, but the much maligned SEC is leading the way at 4-0, followed by the American Athletic Conference at 4-1. The Big 12 is 4-3, but the state of Oklahoma went 0-3. OU, Oklahoma State and Tulsa all fail to get to the second day.