Big Momentum Makes Wichita State Our Tournament Pick vs. Arizona

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 5:57 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 16, 2016 5:57 PM UTC

There was some speculation in certain circles if Wichita State deserved to be in NCAA Tournament after Arch Madness setback to Northern Iowa. Free picks & info inside.

The Shockers defense dismantled Vanderbilt in holding them to 50 points on only 30.2 percent shooting. If you watched closely the combination of great scouting by coach Gregg Marshall's staff in harmony with the players executing game plan, which took away lobs to Damian Jones and forced normally reliable Commodores deep shooters into nightmarish 3 for 19 night, it beautiful basketball.

Seeds matter in terms of who you play, but those setting the NCAA tournament odds are more tuned in which is why this 6 vs.11 matchup has Arizona at only -1 with total of 136.5.

This matchup is scheduled for 9:20 ET tip on TNT Thursday and those who stay to the end in Providence will get a free green beer coupon for one last St. Patty's cheer. (Not really)


SU and ATS Records - 25-8, 16-17 ATS

Away Record -8-7 and 6-9 ATS

Favorite Record - 24-6 and 15-15 ATS

3 or More Days Rest - 12-3 and 7-8 ATS

Off a SU Loss - 4-3 SU and 3-4 ATS


Wichita State
SU and ATS Record - 25-8, 19-12 ATS

Away Record - 12-7 and 11-8 ATS

Underdog Record - 0-1 and 0-1 ATS

One Days Rest - 1-1 and 1-1 ATS

Off a SU Win - 18-6 SU and 14-10 ATS


The Game Scoop
As I have written about here and other places this season, Arizona has been off this year. The Wildcats do not have lottery picks dotting their roster, but they have NBA quality players, yet there has been a disconnect almost the entire. This seems best portrayed thru coach Sean Miller, who has not smiled since December and there have been few happy faces even in victory coming from Arizona players.

The Wildcats would seem to have the pieces to knock off Wichita State with its size, with large frontcourt players like 6-9 Ryan Anderson (15.5 PPG), 7-0 Kaleb Tarczewski (9.4 PPG and 9.3 RPG) and 7-0 Dusan Ristic (7.3 PPG) coming off the bench. Miller's Cats average 81.7 PPG and in the backcourt has Gabe York (15.2) and Alonso Trier (15.0). While talented, these guards are not the best when it comes to shot selection, nor the most alert passers, as Tarczewski has been seen frequently being frustrated when not getting the ball. Expect Miller to want to feed the post to pile up fouls on Wichita State and create matchup problems.

Arizona has superior speed to Vanderbilt, but look for Fred Van Vleet to push the orange on every missed shot because the Wildcats can get lazy in transition defense and the Shockers bigs like to run out for transition baskets. If the Cats are lackadaisical, that is 10-14 easy points for Wichita State.

Marshall's teams are well schooled in fundamentals and they will have to use those lessons learned to keep Arizona off the glass (+9) by boxing out like they did against the taller Vandy players.


Spread Winner and Totals Lean
Playing in the Pac-12, Arizona does not end up playing many if at all games referred to as "grinders". When facing teams like a Wichita State, you have to be patient on offense and keep working ball to find best shot even with shot clock winding down. On defense, Arizona has to be willing to defend the entire shot clock because the Shockers are excellent in probing for open shots by passing.

The sense I have is Wichita State is more together as a unit and they can build on momentum as several First Four teams have in recent years. This is not to say Miller's team cannot take this contest, especially if they contain Van Vleet and Ron Baker's shooting woes continue.

For NCAA tournament picks, my nod goes to Wichita State, with the total around 140, making this OVER action.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Wichita State +1.5
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker


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