None of the four teams remaining rebound as well as Wichita State, and it isn't even close. The Shockers rank 18th in offensive rebounding percentage and 11th on the defensive glass, and senior forward Carl Hall is one of the nation's best at cleaning up his teammate's misses.
Wichita State hasn't rebounded quite as well in tournament play as it did during the regular season—perhaps to be expected against tougher competition—but the Shockers still reeled at least 33 percent of their misses against Ohio State, Gonzaga and Pittsburgh, a more-than-healthy rate given those teams' rebounding abilities.
As ESPN's Peter Keating explained in a recent piece on Wichita State, the Shockers defense isn't just good (ranked 23rd nationally in adjusted efficiency), it's disruptive. Gregg Marshall's team ranks 54th in steal percentage, regularly producing the kind of live-ball mistakes that make for easy offense on the other end.
The emergence of freshman Fred Van Vleet during tournament play is just the latest example of Wichita State's stunning depth. The Shockers incurred a rash of injuries early, but it's made them stronger in the long run. Eleven active Wichita State players average more than 10 minutes a game, and while that rotation has shortened some during the postseason, Marshall is still comfortable giving major run to eight or nine different guys.
Contrary to the conventional wisdom about mid-major teams, Wichita State boasts plenty of size—inside and out. In fact, the Shockers are second only to Syracuse among the remaining four teams in effective height. And when Marshall calls for 7-foot shot-blocker Ehimen Orukpe off the bench, Wichita State is a menace in the paint.
Nothing to Lose
The Shockers have gone out of their way to distance themselves from the "Cinderella" label, but let's be honest here: Wichita State is playing with house money. No matter what happens from here on out, this team has secured its place as one of the greatest in school history. And all the future feting that comes with that label is already guaranteed.
If they win, it's gravy. If they lose, it's still a season for the ages.
Now contrast that with a Louisville team that lost in the national semifinal a year ago and comes to Atlanta as the clear title-game favorite. The Shockers should no doubt be the looser team.