The NCAA Tournament begins on Thursday, March 18th with the First Four, and then moves on to the first round on Friday, March 15 and Saturday, March 16. No. 6 seed USC will face the winner of a play-in game between No. 11 seeds Wichita State and Drake in the first round. Game time has yet to be announced but we will update this article with that and game odds as soon as it comes available. For now, we’ve got a preliminary preview of the two teams to get you ready for March Madness!
Once the odds from DraftKings Sportsbook are made available for this game, we’ll add that information below. We’ll also add the game time and TV channel once it’s settled.
Game date: Saturday, March 20
Game time: 4:30 p.m. ET
TV channel: TNT
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
No. 6 USC
The USC Trojans find themselves in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2016-17 season. It’s a bit misleading as USC would’ve been a tournament team had March Madness been played last year, but this is a new experience for players on this roster. USC is a defense-led team this year, as that end of the floor ranks No. 18 in adjusted efficiency this season. The Trojans went through a stretch in which they won 13 of 14 games before a bit of a struggle to end the regular season.
The Trojans rebound at a very high level and are the best in the Pac-12 thanks to brothers Isaiah Mobley and Evan Mobley. Evan Mobley leads the conference with 8.5 rebounds per game, while Isaiah Mobley grabs 7.7 boards per contest, which is good for third in the Pac-12. Mobley, the 7’ forward that is likely off to the NBA Lottery after this season, is USC’s leading scorer with 16.2 points per game.
Record: 22-7, 15-5 Pac-12
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 30
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 18
Over Total: 16-13
Odds to win NCAA Championship: +4000
No. 11 Wichita State/Drake
The Wichita State Shockers survived life on the bubble despite losing to Cincinnati in the AAC semifinals, and are now part of the NCAA Tournament. The Shockers excel far more on the offensive end of the floor compared to their defense in terms of adjusted efficiency. The Shockers did not find themselves near the top of the AAC in many of the team statistics, but they found enough ways to win incredibly close games throughout the season, which earned them the top seed in the conference’s tournament.
The Shockers are led offensively by sophomore guard Tyson Etienne, who averages 17.3 points per game, which was the fourth best mark in the AAC. He knocked down 77.1% of his free throws and shot well from the three-point line at 39.5%. The only other player on the roster to average double digit points is senior guard Alterique Gilbert. He went for 10.2 points per game this season with a team-high 4.1 assists. This guard duo will need to carry a lot of weight for Wichita State to do some damage.
Record: 16-5, 11-2
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 55
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 103
Over Total: 9-10
Odds to win NCAA Championship: +8000
The Drake Bulldogs have been one of the best stories in college basketball this season. The Bulldogs showed that they were one of the best mid-majors and earned a second bid for The Valley. Drake finished with a record of 25-4 after starting out 18-0. The Bulldogs lost the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers in the MVC Championship Game.
Two players to keep an eye on for the Bulldogs in the NCAA tournament iare senior forward ShanQuan Hemphill and junior guard Roman Penn. Both players suffered broken feet, but could be back for the NCAA Tournament. Hemphill is the team’s leading scorer with 14.1 points per game and averaging 6.3 rebounds per game. As for Penn, he is averaging 11.2 points, 5.5 assists (team-high), 3.3 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game.
Record: 25-4, 15-3 Missouri Valley
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 19
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 120
ATS: 20-6-1 (2nd in D-1 by %)
Over Total: 17-10
Odds to win NCAA Championship: +6400