Originally posted on Fox Sports Kansas City  |  Last updated 4/3/13
1. The ability to dance to every tempo The Shockers arent pretty. They arent all that complicated, either. Badger the snot out of you until you miss, then grab the rebound and try to push it the other way. If theres a nutty carom off the rim, get your backside in position and own it. If theres a loose ball on the floor, dive for that puppy like its the last sack lunch on the planet. Crazy as it sounds, Wichita has the horses to run with Louisville if Saturdays first national semifinal becomes a track meet, and probably wont hesitate should the opportunity arise. If theres a chance to break the Cardinals press, coach Gregg Marshall trusts his backcourt enough to give them the green light. The Shox are more than comfortable to ugly it up, too, showcasing the offensive range of forwards Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall on quick-hit plays and in half-court sets. The less pleasant this contest is on the eyes, the better chance Wichita has of sticking around: The Shox rank 20th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage (38); Louisville ranks 242nd nationally in defensive rebounding percentage (66.8). If it somehow becomes a grind-it-out, want-to kind of tilt, how badly will Louisville want it? 2. Star-snuffing The list of tombstones this month is long, storied, and paved with bricks. Pittsburgh star Tray Woodall: 1-for-12 from the floor, 0-5 on treys. Gonzaga stud Kevin Pangos: 6-17 from the floor, four turnovers. La Salle sharpshooter Ramon Galloway: 4-15 from the floor, four turnovers. Ohio State catalyst Aaron Craft: 2-12 from the floor, 2-7 from beyond the arc. Through four NCAA tourney games, Wichitas perimeter defense has taken the oppositions best backcourt threat and turned them into a liability. Up next, the Shockers greatest challenge awaits in the form of Bracketvilles baddest hombre, Louisville guard Russ Smith. Of all the individual matchups Saturday night, how coach Gregg Marshall elects to deal with the 6-foot-1 Smith whos averaging 27 points in the Dance and is the runaway favorite to be crowned tourney MVP might be the most fascinating one of all. Wichita guards Malcom Armstead, Tekele Cotton and Ron Baker are rough-and-tumble types with excellent feet, a group with linebacker bodies and linebacker mentalities. The Shox have been making a lot of really good guards look silly this month, and that trio is the major reason why. In the Cards five losses, Smith shot just .321 from the floor and a miserable .130 (3-for-23) on his 3-point attempts. If hes wild, this game could get wild in a hurry. 3. That whole Play Angry thing? Its real Angry? The Shockers dont just play angry. When theyre right, they play with a nasty, vengeful aftertaste. Its the perfect storm of rising blood pressures: A program that growls about how its unloved and overlooked (and has to share a neighborhood with Kansas and Kansas State, neither of which has shown much interest in settling it on the basketball court), led by a coach who talks as if no one takes him seriously (although that number is shrinking by the day), directing a roster of overlooked local kids and transfers, all thrown together to represent a blue-collar, unfashionable Midwestern town. Marshall has always given off an us-against-the-world sort of vibe, and that tone has never been more apropos than it will be this weekend against the heavily favored Cardinal. Wichita already took out one top seed in Gonzaga; in the eyes of the Shoxs players, the number before the name on this weekends dance card means absolutely nothing. This team has done better when nothings been expected, when theyre the underdogs, which well really be on Saturday, Marshall said earlier this week. When theyre picked fourth in the (MVC) preseason (poll) after losing the five seniors (from the previous year). I just think thats when were at our best. 3 REASONS THE SHOCKERS ARE IN TROUBLE 1. Scoring droughts Wichita will D you up like a pack of wildebeests, happily, for as long as it takes. The Shox are strong, relentless and physical basically, the closest thing the Valley has to Michigan State. But what they havent been, at least up until the last two weeks, is a great jump-shooting team. Wichita endured a scoring drought of almost seven minutes in the second half of a regional final win over Ohio State, allowing the Buckeyes to chip a 20-point second-half lead down to just three. According to stat guru Ken Pomeroy, Louisville is the most efficient defensive team in the country; Even if you do break the press, youve got 6-11 center Gorgui Dieng in the paint to try and shoot over. Like the Cardinals, the Shockers are better offensively when they can turn an opponent over and get easy buckets in transition. But against Louisville, nothing figures to come easy. 2. The Cardinal Press The Shockers survived 40 minutes of Havoc last November 13, winning at Virginia Commonwealth, 53-51. Still, Wichita also turned the rock over 13 times in that contest, and Louisville has the big-time length up front the Shox outboarded VCU, 35-32 that the Rams didnt. For the season, Wichita ranks just 216th nationally in turnovers per game (12.7) and just 198th in overall turnover percentage (19.5). The Shockers have multiple players who can handle the ball, yet Marshall has put an awful lot of trust as of late in the hands of freshman guard Fred VanVleet. The first-year Illinois native played only four minutes in that VCU victory and turned it over three times during that stretch, so chances are good hell be tested by Pitinos defensive gameplan. 3. The First-Time Factor As good a story as Marshall and his Shockers are, experience counts when the lights burn at their brightest: Since the 2000 Big Dance, first-time coaches in the Final Four have posted a combined record of 7-17. No 9 seed has ever reached the championship game, and of the three teams to make a Final Four with a lower seed than Wichita State, none danced all the way to the title tilt. The Shox are carrying the flag for every underdog in the nation right now, and that can become an awfully heavy burden once youve reached college hoops biggest stage. Just ask George Mason and VCU. You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at seanmkeeler@gmail.com
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Pablo Sandoval appears at AT&T Park after signing with Giants

Report: Brewers interested in 2B Ian Kinsler

Ten college football stars most likely to unseat Lamar Jackson for the Heisman

Report: Kyrie Irving asked Cavs to trade him

Report: Knicks open to trading Carmelo, picks for Kyrie

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Landon Collins: Giants will ‘definitely’ topple Cowboys atop NFC East

Are the Cowboys bracing for possible Elliott suspension?

Simpson parole board member opens up about Chiefs tie

Draymond Green calls out Damian Lillard

Pacman Jones suspended for Week 1 of upcoming season

Stenson had rental home robbed at Open Championship

Sports & Politics Intersect: Trump casts shadow over U.S. Women's Open

Best of Yardbarker: General managers take the spotlight

The 'Pay that man his money' quiz

The unexpected rise of the Connecticut Sun

The National League Wild Card is suddenly relevant again

Kicking It: USMNT struggles to find consistency in Gold Cup as World Cup qualifying nears

Three Up, Three Down: The Dodgers are a complete juggernaut right now

BIG3 Week 5: Pivotal make-or-break weekend in Chicago

Who won the Open Championship in the year you were born?

Making an NFL GM change in the summer has its benefits

Box Score 7/21: Stay cool this weekend sports fans

The 'Let's show a little love for James Jones' quiz

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Sports & Politics Intersect: Trump casts shadow over U.S. Women's Open

The National League Wild Card is suddenly relevant again

The 'Pay that man his money' quiz

BIG3 Week 5: Pivotal make-or-break weekend in Chicago

The 'Let's show a little love for James Jones' quiz

Making an NFL GM change in the summer has its benefits

The 'Yoan Moncada era starts now' quiz

The Orioles need to unwind past deals if they are going to rebuild

BIG3 Referee Hotline Bling: Sam Hinkie is calling the shots

The 'No one is betterer than Roger Federer' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker