Game Time: 2:40 PM EST, March 19th
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
#10 Wichita State Shockers (31-4 overall, 17-1 MVC)
As has been well documented by NCAA Tournament preview shows and pundits alike, the Shockers got screwed by the selection committee. On the plus side though, its a bit of a win for college basketball fans.
Sunday’s contest will be a rematch from the 2014 NCAA Tournament round of 32 game. Then, it was the Shockers who entered the game as the higher seed, and were unceremoniously relieved of their postseason duties by a young Kentucky Wildcats team.
Coach Gregg Marshall has prepared this group specifically for moments like this. His emphasis is to get everyone playing time in order to be at peak potential in a game’s, and a season’s, crucial moments.
Because of this style of coaching, it seems the Shockers do everything well on the floor while limiting the exploitation of any possible vulnerabilities.
With their only four losses of the season at the behest of Louisville, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, and Illinois State, WSU has once again proven that they are a premier college basketball program, even if the selection committee doesn’t think so.
#2 University of Kentucky Wildcats (30-5 Overall, 16-2 1st in SEC)
What can I say about the University of Kentucky Wildcats that hasn’t already been said. National Champions. Perennial Powerhouse. Hall of Fame Coach. Big Blue Nation. Shall I go on? This program expects to be playing for a National Title on a yearly basis.
It doesn’t get much better than Coach John Calipari either. Multiple Final Four appearances, conference titles, and National Championships are splattered all over his HOF resume like a mural on the side of a city building.
As for the players at UK, talent is never in short supply. If it wasn’t for the NBA’s “one-and-done” rule, freshman like Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox might already be among the professional ranks. Monk is averaging of 20 points a game, while Fox averages 16.1 points and nearly 5 assists. This is considered by some to be the best 1-2 player combo in th nation.
With youth and talent can come the desire to push the tempo. If the Wildcats are consistently getting easy fast break points, they can run any team in the nation right out of the gym.
Shocker Nation hasn’t had to wait long for an opportunity to take from Big Blue Nation what they believe was rightfully theirs three seasons ago. They would love nothing more than to end any hopes of another UK national title.
Unfortunately for Coach Gregg Marshall and company, Monk and Fox are playing are their highest level of the year. And even though WSU is one of the best pure basketball teams left in the field, talent will prove just a bit too much this Sunday. The Shockers will keep it close most of the duration, but sweet revenge will have to wait.
Kentucky Wildcats 82, Wichita State Shockers 77