NCAA Tournament Sweet 16: Notre Dame Underdog Vs. Wichita State
Sportsbook.ag has released the game odds for the Sweet 16 and one line in particular stands out: No. 3 seed Notre Dame, the tournament champion of college basketball’s best conference, the ACC, is a 1-point underdog to No. 7 Wichita State. The Irish are the only lower-seeded team to be listed as a dog for the next round. Notre Dame is the +750 second favorite to win the Midwest Region with Wichita State at +800. Top-ranked and unbeaten Kentucky is the -500 favorite.
Notre Dame Struggled In 2 Wins
The Irish are somewhat fortunate to be here as they edged No. 14 Northeastern 69-65 in the first round and Butler 67-64 in overtime in the Round of 32. Notre Dame’s Mike Brey coached with a heavy heart on Saturday against the Bulldogs as his mother passed away earlier in the day. Jerian Grant scored 16 points for Notre Dame (31-5), which moved on to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2003. Steve Vasturia led Notre Dame with 20 points. Demetrius Jackson added 13 points, and Zach Auguste had seven points and 13 rebounds for the Irish, who beat the Bulldogs for the first time in 26 years.
Butler outscored Notre Dame by 12 paint points in the first half, but struggled to score inside after halftime, shooting 26% in the paint during the final 25 minutes. Notre Dame was 6-of-9 (66.7%) in clutch time and Butler was 5-of-16 (31.3%). Clutch time is defined as the last five minutes of the second half/OT with the score within five points.
In each of those first two games, game, the team known for its 3-point shooting shot poorly. The Irish were 8-for-26 from long distance in the two games. Instead, they were forced into two meat-grinder games against teams that preferred low-scoring, low-possession affairs, rather than Notre Dame’s ideal stretch game. The Irish’s regional final drought dates all the way back to 1979. That year, they ran into a decent Magic Johnson and Michigan State.
Few teams can handle Notre Dame’s offense. Jerian Grant (16.8 points per game) and company boast the country’s No. 3 attack in adjusted efficiency. They don’t turn the ball over (No. 3 in turnover percentage) and hit 58.3% of their two-point field goals, the best mark in the country.
Marshall To Bama?
Could this be the final game at Wichita State for coach Gregg Marshall? Reports are that Alabama is coming heavily after him for their opening. The Shockers got here by beating No. 10 Indiana, 81-76, and No. 2 Kansas, 78-65. Kansas led 24-16 with just over 4 minutes remaining in the first half. Wichita State then went on a 25-6 run over an 8:28 stretch. WSU is 4-1 in the NCAA Tournament the past 3 years as the lower-seeded team… That’s tied for the most such wins in that span (with Kentucky, UConn and Dayton).
The Shockers were considered a top-10 team a mere two weeks ago. Before falling to Illinois State in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament semifinals on March 7, Wichita State was ranked No. 8 in the country with two of its three losses coming to top-10 teams. It uses balance to wear down its opponents; the program ranks top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
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