(9) Wichita State vs. (13) La Salle
(9) Wichita State Shockers
In a tournament that has been full of upsets, the Shockers pulled off one of the biggest ones as they eliminated the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the Round of 32. The Shockers were unstoppable offensively as they shot their way to a 76-70 win over the heavily favored Bulldogs. They made 14 threes and 25-50 from the field overall. While Kelly Olynyk and Kevin Pangos finished with big nights offensively, they were a combined 14-39 from the field. Four different Shockers scored in double figures, with Ron Baker and Cleanthony Early’s 16 leading the way. Now all that is standing between the Shockers, who were supposed to be in transition this year after losing a great senior class last year, and an appearance in the Elite Eight is the La Salle Explorers. The Shockers will actually be favored in this match up and if they can guard the three well, they should be victorious.
(13) La Salle Explorers
If it wasn’t for the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles the Explorers would be the talk of the tournament. They kept their season alive with a 76-74 victory over Ole Miss. It came down to the wire, but with two seconds left Tyrone Garland penetrated right through the heart of the Rebels’ zone defense for a game-winning layup attempt. Garland had 17, while Ramon Galloway led the way with 24 and Tyreek Duren chipped in 19. The Rebels go as Marshall Henderson goes and the Explorers were able to do a nice job against him. Henderson was just 8-21 from the field, missing nine three pointers. Against Wichita State in the Sweet 16 the Explorers simply have to stay hot offensively. They’re still dancing largely in part to their sharp shooting from three. However, the Shockers are a team full of weapons as well, so the Explorers will have to be able to get stops when they need them as well if they’re going to keep this magical run going.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Wichita State. After watching the way they performed against Gonzaga, there’s no way we can pick against the Shockers.