Recipe for biggest tourney shocker ever
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to another session of Bracket Briefing, our attempt to provide you with essential information on the Big Dance — highlighting the Florida Gulf Coasts of the college basketball world, and forecasting the Wichita State moments before they happen.
Soundtrack: Before you read any more, take a listen to this morning’s jam of the day.
Teams left in the field: 4
At the water cooler: Do you believe in miracles? You should. That’s what an upset would mean for Wichita State, a No. 9 seed joining the ranks of Virginia Commonwealth and George Mason as unexpected Final Four participants. Anyone who studies college basketball will tell you the Shockers don’t stand a chance against a defensively sound Louisville team that has the inspiration of an injured teammate to play for. Those experts also would have told you New Mexico was a Final Four sleeper. The Lobos lost to Harvard, and now coach Steve Alford is studying at UCLA.
The point is, even if it’s a one-in-a-million chance, there’s still a chance. Today, we’ll go over the key ingredients to the recipe for the most shocking upset in NCAA tournament history. (Yes, it would be. Read this.)
Key Ingredient No. 1: Pressure. Louisville is favored by too much. The Shockers are listed as -9.5 underdogs. If Wichita State loses by 30 points, its season has already been a dazzling success. If Louisville loses, it would be — without a doubt — the most stunning upset in NCAA tournament history. Will the Cardinals buckle under pressure? Not likely. But when you’re playing as the lose-and-it’s-monumental favorite, there’s a subconscious tentativeness that can plague your team.
Key ingredient No. 2: The Cinderella factor. Many fans strike a perplexed pose when they realize that Wichita State, a school they rarely if ever hear of, is in the Final Four. But the Shockers play in a Missouri Valley Conference that’s far tougher than the typical mid-major league. And this Wichita State team was ranked in the top 25 for a good chunk of the season.
Key ingredient No. 3: Offense. Surprised? The talk of this tournament has been … [For more on Bracket Briefing: Recipe for the biggest NCAA tourney shocker ever, click here.]