Wichita State Basketball: Great Depth Will Help Shockers Continue Amazing Run

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 23:  Nick Wiggins #15 of the Wichita State Shockers celebrates after defeating the Gonzaga Bulldogs 76-70 during the third round of the 2013 Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament at EnergySolutions Arena on March 23, 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Wichita State was the first team to knock off a No. 1 seed in the 2013 NCAA tournament. Despite what some may think, this was not a fluke.

The Shockers were lights-out from three-point range in their 76-70 win over Gonzaga. They went 14-of-28 from behind the arc, including five straight made shots down the stretch to take the lead and keep it.

While this was obviously a much better shooting display than the season averages, it was not the only reason for the victory. Instead, Wichita State has proved that it can win in a number of different ways due to great depth.

This squad surprised many by simply winning its first game against Pittsburgh. The Big East team had an impressive season and was seeded relatively low compared to some other squads in the conference.

On ESPN's national bracket, only 31.9 percent of people picked Wichita State to beat the Panthers despite the fact that these games between No. 8 and No. 9 seeds are usually toss-ups. However, the Shockers were more physical inside and won 73-55. 

In that contest, the Shockers only made 2-of-20 shots from outside. The duo of Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker, which combined to go 8-of-13 from three against Gonzaga, missed all 11 outside shots against Pittsburgh.

Still, the team was able to get points in other ways and scored 76 in the game, including 47 in the second half. This is not just a group that got hot against a good team; it is a team that knows how to utilize its skills to win games in any way.

Gregg Marshall uses his deep bench to his advantage consistently. During the year, 10 different players appeared in 27 or more games with significant average minutes, and that does not even include Baker, who missed almost three months with a foot injury.

At this point, the coach knows his personnel and will shuffle lineups to get the most out of his squad. This is what will help the Shockers continue this run in the NCAA tournament.

In the Sweet 16, Wichita State will face the winner of Ole Miss and La Salle. These teams have different styles of play, but the Shockers have the ability to match up with either one.

If Ole Miss plays quickly, then Marshall will rotate plenty of players to keep them fresh. He could also match the athleticism of La Salle with a bigger lineup.

While the shooting might go cold, nothing will stop this squad from doing anything possible to survive and advance to the next round.

In a region that continues to fall apart every day (the teams seeded third, fourth and fifth were also eliminated), Wichita State can surprise the world by playing its way into the Final Four.


Link to Printable PDF
Link to Live Bracket

Follow all the exciting NCAA Tournament action with March Madness Live