WHY WICHITA STATE WILL WIN THE WHOLE THING

06Apr13

Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s talk NCAA basketball.  I know what you’re thinking.  “Wichita State?  They’re a #9 seed.  Who in their right mind would make such a bold (and crazy) statement?”

Okay, that’s a legitimate question.  Maybe I’m not in my right mind.  Or maybe I just don’t believe that Wichita State should have been a #9 seed to begin with.  Let’s be honest, there were a lot of seedings that were questionable, to put it gently.  Ridiculous, to put it bluntly!

As usual, when it comes to college sports, all universities west of the Mississippi River are only allowed to join the tournament because the experts are forced to allow them in.  If it was up to them, it would be a requirement to be a member of the ACC, SEC or Big East (well, for a little while longer at least).

That’s why Arizona came in as a #6 seed and California and Oregon both came in as #12 seeds.  Good call guys!

Meanwhile, powerhouses like Georgetown fell by the wayside in the first round.  (Don’t they always seem to do that?)

So why am I making such a bold statement about Wichita State?  Well, there are a couple of reasons.  But first, let’s take a look at the other side of the bracket.

In the game that very well may be the best game of the tournament, two #4 seeds collide to decide who makes it to the championship game.  The Michigan Wolverines are taking on the Orangemen of Syracuse.

Going into the tournament, nobody was talking about either team getting much farther than the first week of games.  After all, neither team was even the top dog in their respective conferences, so how could they be picked as top dogs in the regional brackets?

Sure Syracuse spent a few weeks at the #1 spot early in the season.  Very early, in fact.  Then they hit a cold spell and fell off the radar until the last couple of weeks of the regular season.  Yet, they got their groove back at the right time and proceeded to march through all of their first four opponents with relative ease.

The only team that really gave them a challenge along the way was California (wait, aren’t they in the PAC-12?).  After destroying Montana and edging California, they handled Indiana from the opening tip and absolutely destroyed a very good Marquette team.

Meanwhile, Michigan was taking care of business in their region.  They easily dispatched San Diego State, manhandled a very good VCU team, won a nail-biter over top seeded Kansas and then finished up by crushing a worthy opponent in Florida.

So which team will come out of this battle the victor?  That really depends on one thing.  Can Michigan handle the Syracuse infamous zone?  If they can counter it with some good outside shooting and timely cuts inside, they will control the game and walk away with one more to play.  If Syracuse makes the Wolverines look like Marquette, they will win by double digits.

We’ll get back to that in a minute.  First, let’s take a look at the other side of the bracket.  Louisville, the only remaining #1 seed in the tournament, may face their toughest opponent yet in #9 seed Wichita State.

The Cardinals have had a relatively easy trek to the final four.  Their only real competition came from Oregon (wait, aren’t they in the Pac-12?  I see a trend forming here!).  They steamrolled North Carolina A&T and Colorado State, beat the Ducks from Oregon and then crushed #2 Duke.

Although the most memorable thing about that game may very well be the horrific injury to Kevin Ware, the fact that Louisville was still able to destroy the Blue Devils was very impressive.

And no, I am not going to add a link to a video of the injury.  If you haven’t seen it, consider yourself lucky.  It is one of those images that you will have a difficult time wiping out of your memory.

Meanwhile Wichita State was quickly and efficiently disposing of every team that stood in their path.  They beat up on Pittsburgh before knocking off #1 seed Gonzaga.  They followed that up last week with an easy win over red-hot La Salle before handling #2 Ohio State in a game that was nowhere near as close as the score indicated.

So that brings us to picking the winners.  I can’t help but be thoroughly impressed with what Michigan has been able to accomplish, so I have to think that they will come out prepared for the Syracuse zone that they know they will be facing.  It may take the entire first half to get things going, but they will finish the game having solved the mystery.  Michigan wins 78-72.

Louisville had to dig deep last week and tap into all of their emotions to beat Duke.  Most teams would have allowed Ware’s injury to take them completely out of their game.

Meanwhile Wichita State has a huge chip on their shoulder.  It seems that the experts have chosen to ignore what they have seen over the past two weeks and have written them off.  Most discussions among the pros involve what Louisville has to do to beat the Michigan/Syracuse winner, as if they had a bye in the Saturday games.

Don’t think for a minute that the Shockers haven’t noticed this.  And don’t believe for a second that they are afraid of, or the least bit in awe of Louisville.  They’ve already knocked off a #1 and a #2 seed along the way.  They believe they can beat anybody.

So do I.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not rushing out and betting the house on Wichita State to beat Louisville or to win the whole thing.  However, I know a hot underdog team when I see one.  A team that is fearless and has nothing to lose.  After all, they are playing with house money now.

Wichita State will stay in the game today, regardless of how many times Louisville appears to pull away.  In the final minutes, they will clamp down on a frustrated Cardinals team and come away with the upset.  Wichita State wins 74-72.

On Monday night, they will take on a very tired but confident Michigan team, and will use the same formula on them that they used on Louisville.  After a tight battle, they will pull away in the final minutes to bring home the upset of the decade championship.  Wichita State wins 80-71.

There you have it.  Now you know why I made the bold statement in the first place.  And now you know why Wichita State will win the whole thing!

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