Wichita State (30-4) vs Dayton (24-7)
When: Friday, March 17th 2017
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
Time: 7:10 ET | TV: CBS
The Wichita State Shockers are making their sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance when they take on the seventh-seeded Dayton Flyers on Friday night in Indianapolis, Indiana. Wichita State won 30 games, but that was only good enough to earn a No. 10 seed in the South Region as a lack of schedule-strength contributed to that. The Shockers were an undefeated No. 1 seed in 2014 when they fell 78-76 in the second round against an eighth-seeded Kentucky squad, and could get them in the next round if they can get past Dayton. Wichita State does not have a player averaging more than Markis McDuffie’s 11.8 points but has five players averaging at least 9.2. The balanced offensive attack ranks 21st in the nation averaging 82.1 points a game and the defense is even better, allowing 62.4 a game – 14th best in the country. The Shockers won both the regular season and Missouri Valley Conference Tournament and bring a 15-game winning streak into the Big Dance. Wichita State has won their opening game of the Tournament the last four years.
The Flyers won the Atlantic 10 regular-season title and bring plenty of experience with seniors Charles Cooke, Kendall Pollard and Scoochie Smith leading the school to its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament. Dayton ended the season with no momentum as they dropped the regular-season finale to George Washington before bowing out against ninth-seeded Davidson in its first A-10 tournament game. The Flyers won nine straight before stumbling down the stretch but are still a solid bunch seniors like Cooke, who leads the team in scoring at an average of 16.1 points and recorded double figures in each of the last nine games. Smith, who is third on the team in scoring (13.5) and leads Dayton in assists (4.5), and Cooke combined for 26 points in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season but Pollard was held to four points on 2-of-7 shooting as the seventh-seeded Flyers fell to No. 10 seed Syracuse 70-51. Pollard and Smith were freshmen on the 2013-14 squad that reached the Elite Eight and helped the team win two games in the Tournament as sophomores in 2014-15.
Everyone is picking this Wichita State team to pull the 10-7 upset, but they’re favored by six points, and rightly so. This team has it all on both ends of the floor, but Dayton is a very experienced team that should be able to hang around. The Flyers will also be playing with some motivation as nobody thinks they can win this game. I think it’s closer than the experts think.
Pick: Flyers +6
HEAD TO HEAD
|No trends available.|