Simply reaching the Final Four was surprising enough for Wichita State. However, this team is not ready to call it quits just yet.
The Shockers have already defeated a No. 1 seed in Gonzaga and a No. 2 seed in Ohio State to reach Atlanta. In the other two games, they easily handled Pittsburgh and La Salle in double-digit victories.
However, it will be much tougher to get a win against Louisville. The Cardinals are the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament and have won 14 games in a row.
Still, Wichita State can pull off the upset if it follows these keys to victory.
Defend the Interior
Few teams in the country can score around the basket as well as Louisville. The team has made only 32.8 percent of three-point shots this season, but this is a tough offense to defend due to its ability to get points in the paint.
Specifically, guards Peyton Siva and Russ Smith use their quickness to get into the lane and they can both finish consistently around the rim.
However, the Cardinals have not faced a team in the tournament with as good of an interior defense as Wichita State.
Carl Hall has shown in the past two weeks that he has the ability to be one of the top shot-blockers in the country. He had six blocks against Ohio State in the Elite Eight, and is averaging three per game in the tournament.
The Buckeyes were only able to make 31.1 percent of shots against Wichita State, and they are usually a much better shooting team than Louisville. The Shockers simply need to continue to make every shot inside difficult and they will keep their opponent off the scoreboard.
Use Quickness to Beat Press
The big reason that Louisville has been so successful this season is its great full-court press. The squad uses a tough defense to force turnovers and get easy baskets on the other end.
In four tournament games, opponents are averaging 16.8 turnovers against the Cardinals.
At times during the year, turnovers were a problem for Wichita State. However, the veteran leadership of Malcolm Armstead has helped the Shockers commit only 11.5 turnovers per game in the last four rounds.
Still, Armstead gets into trouble when he tries to do it all himself. Against Ohio State, he had three turnovers and missed 15 of his 21 shots from the floor.
Instead, the Shockers need to keep passing the ball to beat the press like they did in the example above. Between Armstead, Fred Van Vleet, Demetric Williams and Tekele Cotton, there are plenty of good ball-handlers on the roster to bring it up the court.
The overall depth will also keep Greg Marshall's team fresh until the end of the game.
Crash the Boards on Offense
No matter what happens, scoring on Louisville will not be easy. A team has not scored 70 points against this squad since Notre Dame on Feb. 9.
However, that February game was a five-overtime loss that featured 16 offensive rebounds by the Irish. Syracuse also gave Louisville trouble in the Big East tournament finals after grabbing 14 offensive boards.
These rebounds give the offense second chances, and most often allow for easy baskets around the rim.
Wichita State is among the best in the country with an average of 13.1 offensive rebounds per game this year, including at least nine in every tournament game so far. This must continue against Louisville to give them a chance to score points.
Obviously, Gorgui Dieng will not make anything easy around the rim. However, Cleanthony Early and company need to use their athleticism to get around the big men down low and get some easy put-backs.
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