A No. 9 seed beating a No. 8 seed isn’t exactly an “upset” amidst all of the usual Madness of the NCAA tournament, but the way in which West Region No. 9 Wichita State absolutely plowed through No. 8 Pittsburgh certainly was.
Above all, the Shockers’ 73-55 beat down of the Panthers reinforced the beauty and unpredictability of single game elimination tournaments. Pittsburgh, who finished the season as the 20th-ranked team, came into today’s matchup holding the eighth-most efficient offence in the country and the 16th-most efficient defence. In the end, none of it mattered, as Pitt shot just 35 per cent from the floor and allowed Wichita State to get to the line 41 times, a huge amount even despite the fact that Pittsburgh did a lot of intentionally fouling in the final few minutes.
Malcolm Armstead and first team All-Name member Cleanthony Early were big for the Shockers in this one, combining for 43 points on 46 per cent shooting and 16 of 17 from the free throw line.
Again, it’s not really much of an upset in the truest sense of the word, but it’s a stark reminder of why we love single-game elimination tournaments and March Madness in general. All you need is one outlier of a game for a memorable upset for the ages to be 40 minutes of basketball away.