It’s March Madness, the greatest time of the year. Looking for some help with your bracket? Don’t know which teams to believe in, in this crazy college hoops season? We’re breaking down every first-round game in the field of 68, plus looking ahead at which teams will make the run to the Final Four.
7. Dayton (24-7, 15-3/Atlantic 10) – How impressive has Archie Miller’s time at Dayton been? He’s done nothing but win and win big in his six years with the program, posting 24 or more victories four straight years. He took the Flyers to the Elite Eight in 2014, won another two games in the NCAA’s the next year, and won 25 games last season before running into a red-hot Syracuse team that went to the Final Four.
This team is loaded with seniors, including leading scorer Charles Cooke (16.1 ppg), 6-6 forward Kendall Pollard (14.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Scoochie Smith (13.5 ppg, 4.5 apg).
It’s a shame that they drew Wichita State in the first round, which the selection committee curiously continues to disrespect despite the Shockers’ unbeaten 2014 regular season and run to the Final Four in 2013.
10. Wichita State (30-4, 17-1/Missouri Valley) – This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Wichita State, but head coach Gregg Marshall doesn’t really do rebuilding years. Despite losing two of the best players in school history in Fred Van Vleet and Ron Baker, the Shockers won a ridiculous 30 games and ran through the Missouri Valley at 17-1.
Wichita State’s young guns had to grow up quickly, but they made the most of their opportunity for minutes and played well. Sophomore Markis McDuffie led the team in scoring at 11.8 per, but Landry Shamet and Darrall Willis Jr. weren’t far behind. WSU gives 10 players at least 12 minutes per game.
Kansas transfer Conner Frankamp is a capable shooter, and a familiar face on this team.
PREDICTION: This figures to be a fascinating matchup between two of the best coaches in the sport, period. Marshall’s Shockers are criminally under-seeded at 10, and if you don’t think they’re going to use that as motivation, well, you don’t know Gregg Marshall.