Wichita State, La Salle upstaging the big boys
Arizona and Ohio State reaching the West Region’s semifinals was not much of a surprise. Both are loaded with talent, have great coaches and were relatively high seeds.
The rest of the West was a mess, at least in terms of trying to put together a bracket.
New Mexico, Kansas State and Mississippi, seed Nos. 3-5, didn’t get past their first games. Top-seeded Gonzaga struggled in its first game, lost its second. La Salle had to win a play-in game, then knocked off two teams with better seeds.
Of the 12 games in the region, seven were won by teams with the worst seed, by far the most of any of the NCAA tournament’s four regions.
The West has indeed been wild, so, in a way, it seems fitting that Wichita State and La Salle would play in the nightcap of the regional semifinals Thursday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“It’s not parity. Everyone’s good,” La Salle coach John Giannini said.
It’s a hard point to argue.
No. 14 seed Harvard blew up brackets everywhere with a Revenge of the Nerds-type victory over No. 3 New Mexico, a favorite dark horse pick to reach the Final Four.
Wisconsin was unable to build off its Big Ten tournament championship, bounced out of the tournament by Mississippi and its mouthy guard Marshall Henderson.
La Salle didn’t even get its own seeding; the Explorers had to share it with Boise State, earning the spot by beating the Broncos in the First Four. La Salle followed by taking out No. 4 Kansas State and made it three wins in five days by bringing down the Rebels.
Wichita State pulled off a mild upset in its opening game before taking down Gonzaga.
The next chapter comes Thursday night when Wichita State and La Salle meet in a semifinal for the little guys.
The other side of the West bracket features one of the best matchups so far: Ohio State, which went to the Final Four last season, and Arizona, which appears to be all the way back from a brief fall from grace after Luke Olson retired.
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