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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Could another mid major do it? Could another mid-major reach the Final Four on the heels of Butler, VCU, and George Mason? Wichita State is just one win away…and a few college basketball enthusiasts believe they’re playing some of the best ball in the tournament.

Wichita State has been playing very stingy defense vs. teams who know how to score. They’ve been moving the ball around for great looks…outside vs. Gonzaga and inside vs. LaSalle. They’ve been playing with the confidence and swagger that’s VERY reminiscent of what VCU and Butler brought to the table when they crashed the party.

Ohio State is standing in the way. Normally, that would be scary. But, the Buckeyes barely survived Arizona and Iowa State in their last two outings…and Wichita State is playing better than BOTH of those teams recently when you adjust for context. (Arizona lost three times this year to UCLA!).

Let’s run Ohio State/Wichita State through our gauntlet of indicator stats to see if Ohio State and Final Four ticketholders are about to be SHOCKED by the Shockers from the Missouri Valley.



Wichita State: 29-8 (12-6 in the Missouri Valley)

Ohio State: 29-7 (13-5 in the Big 10)

Very similar records obviously. Both reached the finals of their conference tournaments. Both are 3-0 so far in the NCAA’s. You as handicappers have to determine the point differential value between the Missouri Valley and the Big 10. The Vegas line is largely based on how the market sees that issue because these teams are so even in won-lost comparisons. If you think the Big Ten is in a class by itself, then Ohio State should be a medium favorite or larger. If you haven’t been as impressed as you expected with the Big 10 in the Dance…then maybe an upset is in the offing.



Wichita State: #24 with Sagarin, #20 with Pomeroy

Ohio State: #4 with Sagarin, #5 with Pomeroy

The computers of Jeff Sagarin (USA Today) and college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy have pushed Ohio State into the top five thanks to their run through the postseason (still undefeated!) and the fade of Gonzaga. Wichita State has moved into the top 25 in both with their sterling results in this event. Let’s not forget they also dominated Pittsburgh in the first round…a team that the computers were very fond of. It was supposed to be Pittsburgh who upset Gonzaga, not Wichita State!



Wichita State: #89 with Sagarin, #58 with Pomeroy

Ohio State: #8 with Sagarin, #7 with Pomeroy

Big edge here to Ohio State because they scheduled some early season challenges then played in the toughest conference in the land (which may or may not be the consensus view once the Dance is over). Disagreement about Wichita’s true challenges, which is a reflection of how the two computer guys disagree about conference strength in the Missouri Valley this year.



Wichita State: 6-2

Ohio State: 11-7

Wow…this gets interesting. Ohio State is significantly more battle tested, playing 18 games against Sagarin’s top 50 compared to just eight for Wichita State. Yet, the Shockers have clearly risen to the occasion when faced with difficult obstacles, And, they almost came back to upset Creighton in one of those losses. Do you take the team that’s won 75% of the time vs. quality? Or, the team that won’t be intimidated by its surroundings because they’ve been playing huge games all season?



Wichita State: #33

Ohio State: #11

Moving to the chess match, Ohio State gets the nod here in “adjusted” rankings that take into account pace factor and strength of schedule. There could be some errors in the mix if Pomeroy doesn’t have the difference in schedules properly keyed in. We’ve been impressed with both offenses in the tourney. Ohio State is shooting 50% from long range and has some guys who can get to the rim. Wichita State looks like they’re running a clinic on many possessions. Probably an edge to the Buckeyes because of size and athleticism.



Wichita State: #25

Ohio State: #9

Ohio State gets the nod here as well, though they didn’t seem particularly scary against Arizona or Iowa State on this side of the ball in the last two rounds. They don’t force many turnovers, and they let Arizona shoot 50% on two-point shots Thursday Night. Wichita State’s inside defense has been stellar the last two games. Once again, Ohio State has the better athletes…which probably gives them an edge on this side of the ball. It might not be as big as the computer rankings are currently suggesting.



Wichita State: #214

Ohio State: #230

Similar pace factors here. Both teams are slightly below average…which represents patience in the half court but the ability to attack when they have numbers. The second half could really get slow if it’s close because both teams will intensify their patience.



Sometimes the bubble bursts for Cinderella’s dream month at this stage. Well, the bubble used to ALWAYS burst when a mid major got deep. Butler, VCU, and George Mason broke the door down and Wichita State is hoping to be the next mid major to walk through. The indicator stats certainly suggest an upset is possible. Wichita State is not worse than Iowa State and Arizona in terms of late-season or tournament form. Both of those teams were tied with Ohio State with less than 10 seconds to go. Yet, Wichita does have vulnerabilities…and doesn’t have much experience vs. the kind of athletes the Big 10 brings to the floor. This isn’t Gonzaga or LaSalle in terms of physicality.

JIM HURLEY will have his Saturday opinions ready well before tipoff of the first game. You can purchase the BETS BETS from the Elite Eight (which also features Syracuse/Marquette today) and the NBA right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.

We’ll have more NOTEBOOK previews for you tomorrow for the Elite Games in the Midwest and South regionals. Keep reading…and KEEP WINNING WITH JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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