Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Wichita State had a massive early lead and survived a late Ohio State comeback, escaping with a 70-66 win.
It also secured the first ever spot in the Final Four for a No. 9 seed since the tournament expanded to 64 teams.
After some early back-and-forth, the Shockers went on an 18-7 run in the final eight minutes of the first half to enter the locker room with a 35-22 lead.
Gregg Marshall's squad started the second half with the same physicality and energy, completely dominating the Buckeyes and pushing the lead to 20 points with just 11 minutes to play.
However, this is March, so spots in the Final Four don't come easily.
The Buckeyes went on a mad dash and cut the lead to three with three minutes remaining, but Tekele Cotton came up with some massive plays down the stretch to seal it for the Shockers.
As it tends to go with scintillating, instant-classic-type games, Twitter was fairly interested.
This perfectly sums up Wichita State's approach and style (via CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd):
The nice, cheerful, pretty, polite WSU cheerleaders are chanting "Play angry."— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) March 31, 2013
Of course, in addition to the Shockers' strong, physical play that made OSU uncomfortable, it also helps having an elite head coach. As ESPN's Dick Vitale pointed out, Marshall has done a historically masterful job of rebuilding this season:
Who is the last team to go to the Final 4 after losing their 5 top scorers ala WICHITA ST ? Amazing job by Marshallespn.go.com/mens-college-b…— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) March 31, 2013
Josh and Mike from the Big Ten Network even included Marshall in the conversation with one of the hottest up-and-coming coaches in America:
If WSU wins this game, what's the difference between Marshall and Shaka?— Josh and Mike (@bigtengeeks) March 31, 2013
While the Shockers became the first No. 9 seed to ever make the Final Four since expansion, ESPN Stats & Info broke it down into a broader group that they are now a part of:
4 teams seeded 9th or lower have made the Final Four ...2 have done so since 1987 (George Mason in 2006 and VCU in 2011)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 31, 2013
Aaron Craft had a rough night on the offensive side of the floor, and this tweet from Rush the Court's Andrew Murawa seemed appropriate:
Aaron Craft's jumper makes my brain hurt.— Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) March 31, 2013
It wasn't a magical Elite Eight for Deshaun Thomas, either, even though he finished with 23 points (via CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello):
Deshaun Thomas has had two big turnovers on attempted fast-breaks in the past four minutes or so -- and also missed the FT.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 31, 2013
But not so fast.
Despite controlling Ohio State and its two stars for the first 30 minutes, the Shockers found out that things are never as easy as they appear in March (via ESPN's Myron Medcalf):
That's the beauty of the Big Dance and college basketball. Sustaining a lead is far more challenging than building one.— Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN) March 31, 2013
Of course, judging by Friday night's mayhem between Michigan and Kansas, maybe it's less about March and more about there being something in the water in Kansas (via Bleacher Report's C.J. Moore):
My state is all about blowing leads. #welikedrama— CJ Moore (@cjmoore4) March 31, 2013
Tekele Cotton coming up HUGE. Hit the 3 and then got the offensive board.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 31, 2013
Fred Van Vleet ... Put him on a cereal box.— Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN) March 31, 2013
It's not all gumdrops and lollipops, though.
If Louisville advances, the Shockers proved down the stretch that they have some work to do in Atlanta (via Grantland's Shane Ryan):
Is Rick Pitino licking his lips or full-on drooling as he watches Wichita "handle" the press?— Shane Ryan (@ShaneRyanHere) March 31, 2013
Yahoo! Sports' Andy Glockner noted that this is just another of many recent accomplishments for mid-majors:
Fifth mid-major in the Final Four in eight seasons. Thank you, George Mason.— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) March 31, 2013
Thank you, indeed.