#11 Wichita State (25-8) vs #6 Arizona (25-8)
When: Thursday, March 17th 2016
Where: Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Providence, RI
Time: 9:20 ET | TV: TNT
The Wichita State Shockers look to keep their momentum going when they travel to Providence, Rhode Island to take on the sixth-seeded Arizona Wildcats. The Shockers are coming off a 70-50 win over Vanderbilt on Tuesday in which they pulled away in the second half. Senior guards Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker combined for 28 points in the victory and the bench contributed half of their points. Anton Grady (8.1 points), who is averaging 12.8 points over his last five games, scored 11, while Conner Frankamp pitched in eight and Markis McDuffie seven. Baker averages 14.2 per game to lead the team and VanVleet chips in with 12.1 while combining for 102 made three-pointers. With Tuesday’s win, the Shockers have now won 25 games for the seventh year in a row and lead the nation in scoring defense (58.9 points). Wichita State has now won seven of their last eight overall, but face their toughest test of the season against a big front-court on Thursday night.
Arizona comes in as a surprise sixth-seed to many after a 25-8 season. The Wildcats stumbled a bit down the stretch going 3-3 in their final six games and losing in overtime to Oregon in the PAC-12 Semifinals. They also must travel 2,600 miles to play a really tough 11-seed. Arizona has three players that average at least 15 points a game led by Boston College transfer Ryan Anderson (15.5). The senior also averages 10.1 rebounds per game and shoots 54.7% from the floor, but was held to six points on 2-of-13 shooting against the Ducks. Senior guard Gabe York scores 15.2 per game including 21.8 over the past four games, while freshman guard Allonzo Trier averages 15.0. Seven-foot center Kaleb Tarczewski (9.4 points, 9.3 boards) could be the key against a small Wichita State front-court. Arizona has lost in the Elite Eight each of the past two seasons and will have to beat some talented teams to get back there.
This is a good spot for the Shockers. Coming off a big win on Tuesday and really playing well right now makes me lean towards the Shockers. Arizona is very talented and will score underneath, but VanVleet and Baker will get the last laugh and move on.
Pick: Wichita State +1.5