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Wichita State proves again it can hang with anybody
May 20 2018, 05:24 | Van Peters
James Lang-USA TODAY Sports
It may all go back to that amount of time the Shockers figure they have to set up on defense. It was one of the most memorable college games in recent times.
Kentucky, which was the preseason No. 1 team in the country that season, struggled through much of the year with highly regarded yet inexperienced talent. No current Wichita State player saw action in the game either. The Cardinals have held a small lead for most of the game, holding down Michigan's 3-point attack.
The depth that carried Wichita State all season dissipated in Indianapolis, when Marshall was hesitant to go to his bench.
Calipari was nearly introspective when looking at the total package of what his team will bring to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, opposed to the brawl in the paint, gritty defensive and rebounding mentality the Shockers look to employ. Unfortunately, after pulling off a hard-fought win over Dayton in the first round, Wichita State - with its 31-4 record - was forced to face a risky and talented Kentucky in only the second round, and it couldn't quite get over the hump in what proved to be, essentially, an even game. Shockers the one seed, wildcats the eight. Kentucky improved to 20-6 all time as a No. 2 seed, 46-10 in NCAA openers and 24-5 overall with John Calipari coaching. And you're either on one side of the fence or the other.
This game is for all of us who were ridiculed for choosing NKU as our college, and for all of us who fight for equal funding for our region in Frankfort, and for all of us who believe that Northern Kentucky matters, and that Northern Kentucky can and should win - at anything.
But each year, when the NCAA Tournament rolled around, I was bleeding blue again, loving the Kentucky Wildcats.
Kentucky (29-5) takes an 11-game winning streak into the NCAA opener against the Norse, making their tournament debut.
NCAA Tournament team profile: Florida Gulf Coast Eagles Perhaps because of FSU's inexperience in postseason play or because of the Seminoles' inconsistency away from the Donald L. Tucker Center, Florida State has been put on upset alert from a number of different outlets ahead of Thursday's matchup.
So Wichita State can strike a blow for the little guy, even if it's not all that little.
Want more proof that the Shockers are different than your typical 10-seed?
"It entered my mind when they messed around with the ball, but I hadn't said anything", Calipari said. You know what I'm saying?
"When they won their conference tournament, I kind of felt like I was celebrating with them", explained Svoboda. I know how tough. "I'd probably say the overall reward, building yourself up as a complete player in four years is probably more appreciated than just jumping straight to the league". If they don't do that, then it's done. "We're excited to get an opportunity to play against a prestigious program like Kentucky". Didn't the world know that Travis Ford and Jeff Brassow had just played their last games? In the previous five years, four No. 2 seeds got knocked off in their opening games.
EDRICE ADEBAYO: No. I just go out and play my game, have fun with my teammates, just listen to Cal and listen to my teammates. They might seethe at their idea of the selection committee kicking sand in their faces, but if they pull it off against Kentucky, they can take a bow as Cinderella. Was prepared for the team yesterday, and now we're prepared for Wichita State and anxious about ourselves and anxious about what we've got to do.
Wichita State is led by 6-foot-8 forward Markis McDuffie, who faced off against Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe in high school in the state championship.
On the final play of the game, Hawkins defended and waited for the right moment as Shockers leading scorer Landry Shamet dribbled.