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Record: 30-8 (12-6 Missouri Valley)
Coach: Gregg Marshall
Seed: No. 9 (West Region)
How They Got Here: Def. Pittsburgh (8), 73-55: Def. Gonzaga (1), 76-70; Def. La Salle (13), 72-58; Def. Ohio State (2), 70-66.
Best Player: PG Malcolm Armstead
Armstead is not the team’s leading scorer and can be a little inefficient at times. However, he embodies the toughness that has carried Wichita State to its first Final Four since 1965.
Although Armstead is shooting just 35.6 percent from the floor in the NCAA tournament, he has come up with some big performances. Armstead scored 22 points against Pittsburgh and 18 points against La Salle. He also has eight steals in the last four games.
On Saturday, Armstead will be counted on to steady the ship against Louisville’s pressure defense.
Wichita State Wins If…
It shoots the ball well from deep.
Wichita State has won when it hasn’t been hitting shots from beyond the arc. Against Pittsburgh in the round of 64, the Shockers were just 2-of-20 from deep but still won the game by 18 points.
However, Wichita State needed to hit 14-of-28 from three to beat Gonzaga, and while a stellar shooting night like that isn’t necessary, the Shockers will need to hit some shots from the outside to beat Louisville.
Wichita State Loses If…
Cleanthony Early does not reach double figures.
Early has played well in the NCAA tournament, averaging 14.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. He has been a threat offensively from the perimeter and down low. Against Louisville, that will have to continue.
Earlier in the year, Early scored just two points in a 69-60 loss to Tennessee. Facing Creighton in the Missouri Valley Conference title game, he scored just two points again in a 68-65 defeat. Foul trouble was part of the issue in both of those games.
Saturday, he will need to stay on the floor and be a factor for the Shockers to pull the upset.