The surprise matchup on the first evening of Sweet Sixteen stage in the 2013 NCAA tournament, with La Salle needing two very close wins to make it this far, while Wichita State have been surprisingly dominant in both their wins over highly favored opponents.
The Explorers haven’t been to the Sweet Sixteen since 1955; that year was the second one in their golden era. They won the national title in 1954, followed by finishing as runners up in 1955. Is it going to be that kind of fairy-tale story in 2013?
They began the tournament with an 80-71 win over Boise State in the First Four round, followed by two very close wins – a two point win over Kansas State in their first big upset of the tourney, followed by beating Ole Miss, the SEC tournament champions, by two points as well. The man mostly responsible for this amazing run has been Ramon Galloway and his outside shooting, averaging 21.3 points in the tournament so far, including 6-10 from beyond the arc in the win over the Rebels.
It’s going to be a game of offense – Wichita State are 34th in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency, La Salle are 28th. While the Shockers don’t have one outstanding scorer, their three point shooting that is pretty good across the board on the team is their real weapon. In the win over Pitt (73-55) they shockingly made only 2 of 20, but enjoyed big games from Malcolm Armstead and Cleanthony Early. In the win over Gonzaga (76-70) they were red hot from three, hitting 14 of 28 attempts, as Early and Ron Baker both made four shots from beyond the arc. La Salle are an excellent three point defensive team (allowing 28.4% during the regular season), which means the Shockers will have to mix it up like against Pitt.
Prediction – La Salle have an extraordinary player in Galloway, but Wichita State have more guys to fall on when Early doesn’t necessarily have a great day. The Shockers should make their first Elite Eight since 1981.