NCAA Basketball Pick: Wichita State -4½ over La Salle

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, March 28, 2013 4:00 AM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 28, 2013 4:00 AM UTC

Nobody expected Wichita State and La Salle to be matched up in the Sweet 16, but Wichita State should be the team moving to thee Elite Eight thanks to a huge size advantage Thursday.

The favorite should prevail by a safe margin in one of the Sweet 16 matchups on Thursday night when the 13th seeded La Salle Explorers (24-9, 8-6 away) take on the ninth seeded Wichita State Shockers (28-8, 7-5 away) in the West Region from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA at 10:17 ET in a game televised nationally on TBS.

The point spread at 5 Dimes has Wichita State as a moderate favorite for this contest with the current line at -4½ with odds of -108.

While Florida Gulf Coast is the biggest Cinderella team remaining in the tournament, this is the biggest Cinderella matchup because of the combined seeds of the two teams involved, although Wichita State was probably under-seeded as a nine given its 23rd overall ranking on the Pomeroy Ratings.

Wichita State and Creighton were the only two Missouri Valley Conference schools to make the NCAA Tournament, a low number for one of the best mid-majors in the country, but at least you can say that the two best teams got in.

While Creighton fell to Duke on Sunday, the Shockers soldier on after two impressive wins, first beating what many felt was a very dangerous Pittsburgh team with ease 73-55 and then knocking off top-seeded Gonzaga, which was only the number one team in the country in the last AP poll!

Wichita State has nice size, and we see it putting that to excellent use here vs. a La Salle team that usually employs a four-guard set. Thus the Shockers should dominate the offensive glass, where they rank an excellent 20th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage, and they should also get basically what they want inside as they rank a good 60th in two-point percentage at 50.3 percent.

Both of those strengths match up very well with a couple of smaller La Salle’s weaknesses.

The Explorers deserve a lot of credit as the 13-seeds have already won three games in this tournament. That is because La Salle was forced to play on the First Four where it beat Boise State before knocking a couple of overrated teams in Kansas State and Mississippi in the second and third rounds respectively.

So although La Salle has won three games to get here while Wichita State has won two, there is little doubt that Wichita State has beaten the better teams.

Because the Explorers play so small, they rank a dismal 256th in defensive rebounding percentage and 281st in two-point defense, and this looks like the physical matchup where those two weaknesses should prove fatal.

For La Salle to continue its dream run, it will probably need to continue its recently unconscious three-point shooting that has seen it shoot a blistering 43.5 percent from beyond the arc during this tournament.

However, we feel that regression is more likely so look for a handy Wichita State victory on Thursday as the Shockers advance to the Elite Eight as nine-seeds.


NCAA Basketball Pick: Wichita State -4½ (-108)

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