At least one school from the Sunflower State will be in the Sweet 16. The #9 seed Wichita State Shockers upset the #1 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs 76-70 Saturday night in Salt Lake City to advance in the NCAA Tournament. The big upset allows the Shockers to play in the second week of the tourney.
The Shockers hit 14 three point shots (out of 28), including 5 during a seven minute stretch in the second half in which Wichita State didn’t miss any shots. WSU only made 11 two pointers and 12 free throws in their upset of the #1 seed in the West Region. Wichita State led by as many as 11 in the first half and trailed by as many as 7 in the second half before getting hot and spiriting away the game late.
Ron Baker and Cleanthony Early scored 16 in the victory and combined for 13 rebounds for the Shockers. Fred Van Vleet added 13 points, and Carl Hall pitched in with 10. Kelly Olynyk led the Bulldogs with 26 points and 9 rebounds, though he missed 14 shots for the field. Kevin Pangos tallied 19 with 5 assists, Elias Harris netted 12 with 7 caroms, while guard Michael Hart scored just 6 but pulled down 14 rebounds in the loss. Gonzaga dominated the boards, out rebounding Wichita State 36-27 but only shot 36% from the field (21-59) compared to 50% (25-500) by the Shockers.
Gonzaga became the first #1 seed to fall even though #2 Georgetown fell in the second round to #15 Florida Gulf Coast. The Shockers will play the winner of the Mississippi/LaSalle game next week in Los Angeles in the Sweet 16.
While fans of the Kansas State Wildcats are still mourning the ousting of their beloved ‘Cats on Friday by the LaSalle Explorers, maybe those fans can throw their support behind the Shockers as Wichita State works to make a deep Cinderella run in this year’s tournament. Many Wildcats fans may balk at the idea of cheering on the Kansas Jayhawks while they are still alive, but there should be no reason not to support Wichita State.