#4 Wichita State vs. #13 Marshall
San Diego, CA
Friday, March 16, 2018 (1:30 PM ET, TNT)
Wichita State (25-7, 14-4 AAC)
Player to Watch: Landry Shamet: 15.0 PPG, 5.1 APG, 3.2 RPG
Despite his team’s recent struggles, Shamet has been playing at a high level and is the reason Wichita State is such a dangerous team. In the last three games, Shamet is averaging 19.6 points, 4.6 assists and is connecting on 57 percent of his 3-point attempts. Great guards are the ticket to NCAA Tournament runs and Shamet is one of the best in the country as he can impact the game in so many ways.
X-Factor: Defensive Intensity
The Shockers boast one of the premier offenses in the country but their defense is a bit skeptical at times. Gregg Marshall’s team is very athletic, but they often lack the discipline on the defensive end and try to outscore teams rather than make it a focus to get stops. Marshall plays a very fast, up-tempo style of play so Wichita State will have to make sure it gets after it defensively.
Marshall (24-10, 12-6 CUSA)
Player to Watch: Jon Elmore: 22.8 PPG, 6.9 APG, 6.0 RPG
Elmore has one of the most impressive stat lines in the country this year and has been the main reason why the Thundering Herd are having one of their best seasons in program history. Elmore has only scored less than 15 points in one game this year and has had four 30-point performances. While scoring is his main attribute, he has dished out at least 10 assists on seven different occasions this season.
X-Factor: Force Wichita State to guard
As I stated earlier, the Shockers have trouble on the defensive end which gives guys like Elmore, C.J. Burks (20.5 PPG), and Ajdin Penava a chance to put up big numbers. If Wichita State puts too much focus on scoring points, the Thundering Herd could cause some issues.
Match-Up to Watch: Shaq Morris vs. Penava
While the guards are the main focus this time of year, this matchup boasts one of the more intriguing inside battles. Penava, a 6-foot-9 big man, averaged 4.1 blocks per game and could give Morris (14.0 PPG) some difficulties down-low. When Shamet has struggled this year, Morris has been the go-to option and Penava shutting him down would give Marshall a distinct advantage in this one.
Key Stat: Wichita State Offensive Rebounding
The Shockers rebound 35.2 percent of their shots which is 10th in the country according to KenPom. The Thundering Herd are not a big team (203rd in average height) and have problems keeping opponents off the offensive glass. Wichita State shoots a decent amount of 3’s, so Marshall is going to have to make it a focal point to box out everytime the ball goes up.
Prediction: Wichita State 90, Marshall 85
This game is going to be awesome if you hate defense. Both teams can put up big numbers and have a good balance of inside and outside productivity. Wichita State is the clear favorite in this one but Marshall is going to give them all it can handle.
Photo: USA Today