After a 25-7 season, Wichita State was selected as the No. 4 seed in the East region and will play No. 13 seed Marshall in San Diego's Viejas Arena at 12:20 p.m. Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
It is the seventh straight season coach Gregg Marshall has led the Shockers to the NCAA Tournament, and the No. 4 seed is the second-highest seed WSU has had during that time span.
West Virginia could be the road block to WSU's first Sweet 16 appearance since 2015, and No. 1 overall seed Villanova may be waiting for the Shockers in Boston if they get that far. But first, WSU must defeat Marshall.
Here are five things to know about the Thundering Herd:
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Marshall hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament in 31 years. On Feb. 1, Marshall was 14-8 and sitting in the middle of the Conference USA standings. But Marshall won 10 of its final 12 games, including three straight in Frisco, Texas at the conference tournament to win the conference's automatic bid. Marshall defeated Western Kentucky 67-66 in the tournament championship game and swept Middle Tennessee in the regular season.
Guard Jon Elmore is going to be a problem. Ever since Elmore, a 6-foot-3 guard, arrived at Marshall, he has been a scoring machine. But now, in his junior season, Elmore is doing it all. He's averaging 22.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 6.9 assists as the team's go-to player. WSU has allowed seven players to score 30 or more this season, a total Elmore has hit four times this season. He takes seven threes per game and makes 35 percent of them, and he shoots 44 percent overall from the field. Nearly 40 percent of Elmore's offense is generated by pick-and-rolls, per Synergy Sports Technology, and Marshall is scoring at 1.04 points per possession when he initiates offense from ball screens.
WSU should dominate the rebounding battle. There aren't many teams that are worse at grabbing rebounds than Marshall, which ranks No. 327 in offensive rebounding and No. 298 in allowing offensive rebounds. Meanwhile, WSU ranks No. 10 in offensive rebounding and No. 11 in allowing offensive rebounds. Marshall's front line features 6-9 freshman Jannson Williams and 6-9 junior Ajdin Penava, whose main priority will be limiting WSU's Rashard Kelly, Darral Willis, and Shaquille Morris from generating second-chance opportunities.
Marshall is another team that loves taking threes. WSU's defense has plummeted to No. 107 on Ken Pomeroy's adjusted defensive efficiency entering the NCAA Tournament. It's the first time WSU has been outside the top-30 since 2011. WSU's defense is allowing opponents to take 40 percent of their shots beyond the perimeter, which ranks No. 273 in the country, and opponents are knocking down better than 36 percent of them, which ranks No. 247. Marshall will almost certainly test WSU's perimeter defense, as it takes three-pointers at the 26th-highest rate in the country. Marshall is averaging more than 28 threes per game.
Gregg Marshall became a head coach out of Marshall. Before he left to win 194 games and appear in seven NCAA Tournaments in nine years at Winthrop, WSU coach Gregg Marshall was an assistant at Marshall for the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons. Marshall won the 1997 Southern Conference championship, but the team lost in the conference tournament and did not make it to the NCAA Tournament. Gregg Marshall was also a lead recruiter for the program's standout 1997 recruiting class, which was ranked by ESPN as the best in the MAC and top-40 nationally.