With the way things went during this college basketball season, there had to be at least one bracket-busting surprise team in the Final Four. It was a requirement, and Wichita State answered the call.
The Shockers punched their ticket to Atlanta with a 70-66 win over an Ohio State team that seemed like the best bet to represent the Big Ten in the Final Four. Instead, Wichita State continued its magical ride through this tournament and are in the Final Four for the first time since 1965.
Malcom Armstead, the MVP of the regional tournament, pumped in 14 points while Fred Van Vleet, a native Rockford, Ill., dropped in 12 points. Cleananthony Early also scored 12 points in the victory as the Shockers held off the Buckeyes.
While Wichita State is, hands down, the biggest Cinderella story of the tournament, it’s hard to be completely caught off guard that it made it to the final weekend of the college basketball season.
The Shockers play in the Missouri Valley Conference, one of the tougher and more respected mid-major leagues in the nation. They are tested night in and night out and the rigorous schedule prepared them for what was ahead in the NCAA tourney.
Keep in mind that Wichita State lost in the MVC championship game, and the fact that it still made it to the Final Four is a testament to the strength of the league.
Is Wichita State good enough to beat Louisville and play on Monday night for the title? Anything is possible.
Regardless of what happens, though, it’s been quite a run for the Shockers.
Brian Lester is a college basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993.