All previews: click here for the full 2015 NCAA tournament schedule
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Wichita State Shockers
Conference: Missouri Valley
Date: Thursday, March 26
Time: 7:15 pm Eastern
Location: Cleveland, OH
Wichita State got their prize: a win over Kansas. Will they take it even further against Notre Dame?
Notre Dame Wichita State
SportsRatings Power Ratings
Strength: #12 Strength: #19
Median play: #14 Median play: #16
Other Power Ratings
Sagarin(predictor):#13 Sagarin: #17
Pomeroy: #10 Pomeroy: #9
Offense: #3 Offense: #18
Defense: #103 Defense: #13
LRMC: #13* LRMC: #17*
BPI: #10 BPI: #11
Power Rating Derivatives
2nd half/season: #14 2nd half/season: #16
Last 6 games: #7 Last 6 games: #17
Consistency: #282 Consistency: #83
The two teams aren't very far apart, especially after each winning two NCAA games. Notre Dame has a slight edge everywhere except with Pomeroy, whose ratings seem to react the most, i.e. taking recent play into account the fastest (the LRMC is not updated past Selection Sunday). Pomeroy's ratings are also the source of the most interesting difference between these teams, balance vs. well, unbalance. Notre Dame is great on offense and terrible at defense, while the Shockers are top 25 at both. That, and Wichita State's consistency, would seem to be a boon for them but Notre Dame has played fantastic lately and if that aspect of their inconsistency continues they'll get the win.
- Wins vs. tournament teams (10): Michigan St.+OT, =Purdue+31, @North Carolina+1, @North Carolina St.+OT, Duke+4, @Louisville+12, @Duke+10, @North Carolina+8, =Northeastern+4, =Butler+OT
- Wins vs. Sweet Sixteen (7): Michigan St.+OT, @North Carolina+1, @North Carolina St.+OT, Duke+4, @Louisville+12, @Duke+10, @North Carolina+8
- Losses to tournament teams (3): =Providence-1, Virginia-6, @Duke-30
- Other losses (2): @Pittsburgh-4, Syracuse-5
Key Info: Notre Dame played a laughably easy non-conference schedule (ranked #347 of 351 by Pomeroy) but they beat the two tourney-bound Big Ten teams they faced and once in conference they proved they could run with the big boys. Their last five games included a road win over 4-seed Louisville and essentially road wins over 1-seed Duke and 4-seed North Carolina. The performance of the ACC in the tournament mean that the Irish have a huge amount of Sweet Sixteen victories, no matter their poor non-conference SOS.
Senior guard Jerian Grant has been Notre Dame's spark this year, leading the team in scoring (16.8ppg) and assists (6.6), but three other players average in double figures for the Irish's excellent offense, including forward Zach Auguste who had 25 points to keep the Irish ahead of Northeastern. #5 scorer Steve Vasturia stepped up with 20 in the overtime Butler win.
- Wins vs. tournament teams (4): New Mexico St.+17, Northern Iowa+14, =Indiana+5, =Kansas+13
- Wins vs. Sweet Sixteen (0): none
- Losses to tournament teams (2): @Utah-OT, @Northern Iowa-16
- Other losses (2): =George Washington-6, =Illinois St.-3
Key Info: Like conference-mate Northern Iowa, with whom they swapped blowouts (that sounds dirty?), the Shockers (that sounds dirty, too) won a lot of games, but the key games were few and far between on their schedule. They only played New Mexico State and Utah among other tournament-bound teams, and only lost to George Washington and Illinois State otherwise. The latter game came in the MVC tournament and contributed to their disappointing seed. They left no doubt that they could play with the big boys after dismantling Kansas, 78-65, in a game they've wanted for years.
Wichita State's top four scorers are holdover's from last year's team, with Ron Baker averaging 15 points per game. Against Indiana Fred VanVleet had 27 points without making a single 3-point goal, and another holdover, Tekele Cotton, led with 19 against KU.
Game Analysis: We feel like we blew it in analyzing Wichita State vs. Kansas. In retrospect, it's pretty clear that the game was much more important to Wichita State (which we noted) and that the emotion would drive the Shockers to the win. At least in retrospect that seems damningly obvious.
So is this game the letdown? Probably so. The Shockers, having won a game that they've been waiting 20 years to play, aren't going to be nearly as psyched to try to get back in the Elite Eight, where they were just 2 years ago. Instead it's Notre Dame who will be going for their first Elite Eight berth in nearly 30 years. Advantage: Notre Dame.
Of course, if Wichita State wins we'll have to admit that, in retrospect, we should have realized the Kansas win would spur them to greater heights...
Wichita State by 2
Power rating: spread
Notre Dame by 2.0
Game-comparisons: % Chance to win
Notre Dame: 55.6%
Wichita State: 44.4%
Interestingly, the Shockers are the Vegas favorite which gives us pause in our prediction. But if you look at the line moves, it's the public that turned a 1 point edge for Notre Dame into a 2 point spread for Wichita State. The Kansas game was much more prominent—and convincing—that Notre Dame's overtime win over Butler.
3s and 7s have only played 10 times, with the 3-seed winning 6 games. That's pretty close to what the Strength power rating come up with.
Bottom line: We still contend that Wichita State blew their wad with the Kansas game.
Final prediction: Notre Dame 70, Wichita State 68
More previews: click here for the full 2015 NCAA tournament schedule.