Prior to Selection Sunday, I wrote about three teams that could potentially be a threat during March Madness. The three teams I wrote about were: Wichita State, University of Northern Iowa and Utah. Since the first weekend of the NCAA tournament has come and gone (and it was complete madness), I thought that it would be a good idea to take a look at how those teams competed.
Wichita State: Possibly the most under ranked team in the tournament, the Shockers were placed in the Midwest region as a 7-seed. To start the second round, Wichita State played Tom Crean and the 10th seeded Indiana Hoosiers. Inevitably, Indiana lost to the Shockers 81-76.
Wichita State then played who was possibly the most over ranked team in the tournament, the 2-seed Kansas Jayhawks. The Shockers played like they had something to prove shooting 49% from the field and 50% from behind the three point line. Kansas on the other hand shot 35% and 28% respectively. Kansas had no answer for Evan Wessel’s four three pointers or Tekele Cotton’s 19 points.
Could we see a Kentucky-Wichita State rematch? Both have difficult Sweet 16 match ups to get through first, but the national media is already salivating over the possible storyline. The Shockers would be out for revenge after last year’s team ended their perfect season in the round of 32, with hopes to do the same to this Kentucky squad.
Northern Iowa: The Panthers entered the tournament as a 5-seed in the East region. Their first matchup was against 12-seed Wyoming, who they rolled right past with a 71-54 win. They then moved on to play on Sunday in the round of 32 against the Louisville Cardinals. Going into this game it was up in the air on who would win. Louisville had not been playing well after the loss of Chris Jones and the Panthers had just won the Missouri Valley conference tournament. Unfortunately for Seth Tuttle and his team, they could not stop the Cards from making three after three and Terry Rozier from getting 25 points. The Panthers were sent home after a 66-53 loss.
Utah: The Running Utes are making quite the run so far. Playing the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks in the second round, Utah pulled a Kentucky and held SFA to 33% from field-goal range and 19% from behind the line. They then went on to win 57-50.
In the third round, they played 4-seed Georgetown. The Utes rolled over the Hoyas 75-64. Their veteran backcourt combined for 36 of those points with Brandon Taylor leading the way with 14 points. Utah shot 58% from the field and 57% from three point land which are fairly impressive numbers. They held Georgetown to just 44% and 36% shooting respectively.
In the Sweet 16, Utah will face Duke, which is potentially the hardest matchup Utah will have met all season. To advance to the Elite Eight for a potential meeting with Gonzaga, the Utes will have to use their experienced guards to exploit the holes in Duke’s freshman point guard Tyus Jones’ game and shoot well from the outside like they did against SFA. Maybe pray for Duke to get into foul trouble too.
Wichita State and Utah have some difficult but intriguing match ups this week. How do you see the Shockers and Utes faring in the round of 16?