Wichita State wouldn't have gotten this far without confidence. It's a key ingredient for a Cinderella team. Some say it's a necessary ingredient.
Nobody in their right mind would have thought the Shockers would be the team from Kansas to make it to the Final Four this year. The Shockers believed. Then again, they weren't in their right mind. No team from the Missouri Valley Conference should expect to upset the No. 1 team in the nation, Gonzaga, then upset one of the hottest teams in the nation, Ohio State. That's simply ludicrous.
But confidence won't be enough to propel Wichita State past Louisville in the Final Four. The Cardinals, arguably the best team in the nation this season (regardless of official ranking), have a phenomenal defense led by one of the nation's best on-the-ball defenders Peyton Siva and an underrated offense led by star guard Russ Smith. They rank second in defensive efficiency and 23rd in offensive efficiency this season, per TeamRankings.com.
In the Cardinals' first true test in the NCAA tournament, they destroyed Duke, 85-63. It was a clinic, in virtually every area. They shot 53 percent while holding Duke to 37 percent shooting, they out-rebounded the Blue Devils 35-26 and they attempted 36 free throws.
Of course, the good news for the Shockers is that they don't just have confidence—they're a very good basketball team, in every sense of the word "team."
Nobody thought much of Wichita State holding opponents to under 40 percent shooting during the regular season. The Shockers played in the mediocre MVC, after all. But they didn't stop there—they've held opponents to 34 percent shooting in the NCAA tournament. Gonzaga and Ohio State shot 36 percent and 31 percent respectively against them.
And while Wichita State isn't an efficient shooting team (ranked 114th in the nation in field-goal percentage), that doesn't mean it isn't an efficient offensive squad. The Shockers rank 51st in offensive efficiency this season, primarily because they're a strong offensive rebounding team (ranked 14th in the country).
Also, Wichita State has upped its game in several areas during the NCAA tournament. The Shockers have gotten to the free-throw line when their shots haven't been dropping, and they are uncharacteristically shooting very well from beyond the arc in their last three games (27-of-60).
It's been a complete team effort, too. The entire starting lineup has contributed in one way or another, while freshman guard Fred VanVleet scored in double digits against both Gonzaga and Ohio State.
So, yes, Wichita State's brimming confidence alone won't be enough to defeat Rick Pitino's Cardinals, but the Shockers have been playing so well together as of late, who's to say they can't continue their magical run?
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!