After a drubbing of the Pittsburgh Panthers in the round of 64, the Wichita State Shockers will look to oust the one-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs in the third round of action.
The Zags narrowly avoided becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 in the round of 64, beating Southern University 64-58 behind another dominant performance from forward Kelly Olynyk.
If Gonzaga wasn't already thought of as the weakest No. 1 seed in the 2013 NCAA tournament, it surely is now after a subpar showing against a No. 16 seed.
Does Wichita have the manpower to overtake the Bulldogs, or will Olynyk & Co. roll to the Sweet 16?
With the Bulldogs' legitimacy still in question, let's get into the preview for the matchup between No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 9 Wichita State.
Where: EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
When: Saturday, March 23 at 8:40 p.m. ET
Live Stream: March Madness On Demand
Betting Line: Gonzaga (-6) via Sports Book
According to USA Today, there are no current injuries to update for the third-round matchup between Gonzaga and Wichita State.
What's at Stake?
Besides moving one step closer to a national championship? Oh, nothing.
Knocking off a No. 1 seed this early in the tournament would undoubtedly be an impressive accomplishment for the Shockers, especially after beating Pittsburgh in impressive fashion.
Because of the seeding, most will be leaning toward the Zags, but don't sleep on Malcolm Armstead and Wichita State.
Gonzaga Player to Watch: Kelly Olynyk, F
In somewhat of a nail-biter against Southern University on Thursday, Kelly Olynyk was above and beyond the best player on the floor for the Bulldogs.
Averaging better than 17 points per game and seven rebounds, Olynyk elevated his play when Gonzaga needed it the most on Thursday, finishing with 21 points and 10 rebounds. He was active on the offensive glass and was the most effective Bulldog down the stretch.
Olynyk recorded his fifth double-double this season against the Jaguars, and if the Shockers don't put a body on him he'll have his sixth on Saturday.
Wichita State Player to Watch: Cleanthony Early, F
Cleanthony Early is largely responsible for providing a huge spark off the bench for the Shockers.
He gets starter's minutes (24.5 per game) and is the leading scorer for Wichita, averaging better than 13 points and five rebounds on the season. Perhaps his biggest contribution this season came in the win over Pitt on Thursday, when Early scored 21 points off the bench in Wichita's 73-55 win over the Panthers.
Gonzaga has to worry about Carl Hall and Malcolm Armstead, but it's Early who raises the energy level for the Shockers.
Key Matchup: Kelly Olynyk vs. Carl Hall and Ehimen Orukpe
Olynyk is the key to Gonzaga's offense, and the Shockers' big men have to limit his presence in the paint and swarm him in order to pull the upset.
Center Ehimen Orukpe won't have as many opportunities to defend given his lack of minutes, but when the seven-footer is in the game, he needs to use his frame to frustrate Olynyk.
Carl Hall will likely draw the task of defending Olynyk for a majority of the game. Hall is averaging 1.5 blocks per game this season and has emerged as a tough defender for Wichita State, highlighted by four blocks against Creighton in the MVC title game.
The only hope for the Shockers in this matchup is to stop Olynyk, which will largely depend upon Hall and Orukpe.
As much as I'd like to take Wichita to shock Gonzaga, I'm rolling with the Bulldogs here.
Wichita looked great against Pitt but the competition is much better against a team like Gonzaga. I don't think the Shockers' bigs have the defensive prowess to shut Olynyk down, and I believe Kevin Pangos will be a thorn in the side of Wichita State all night long.
Gonzaga covers the spread.
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