During the season, The Juice Online will tackle a burning question about the Syracuse basketball team in “Tipoff Countdown.”
Today’s topic: In the final part of a four-part series, The Juice Online will take a look at each team in the Final Four, and make the case for that team winning the national championship. Today’s team is the lowest seeded team in the national semifinals, the Wichita State Shockers.
I’m tired of people calling Wichita State a “Cinderella story.” If you think back to the Disney Film, Cinderella had to get back before midnight, or see her carriage turn into a pumpkin.
If you followed that storyline, then the Shockers would’ve been going back to Kansas with their gourd in the Sweet 16. It’s now the Final Four, and Wichita State has “played angry” through the top two seeds in their region, Gonzaga and Ohio State.
They’ve done it with their defense, which has shut down every lead guard they’ve seen. Tray Woodall (Pitt), Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga), Ramon Galloway (La Salle) and Aaron Craft (Ohio State) have shot a combined 13 for 56 from the field against the Shockers. So it should come as no surprise that opponents are shooting just 43.4 percent from inside the arc.
Any team team wanting to beat the Shockers is also going to have to get on the boards. They’re 27th in the NCAA at 38.4 rebounds per game, and have a balanced offensive attack, with five players averaging more than seven points a game. That group doesn’t include guard Tekele Cotton, averaging 6.4 ppg, who nailed a key 3-pointer with 2:21 left to haul the Buckeyes’ furious late rally.
It’s not like Wichita State wasn’t capable of this run. This team was ranked as high as No. 15 in the nation, not losing their second game until midway through January.
That doesn’t sound like a Cinderella to me. It sounds more like Goliath.