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Wichita State

vs.

Dayton

March Madness

Pick

3/17/17

This is one of the most talked about games in the first round for a few reasons. For starters, not many agreed with Wichita State as a 10-seed. To add insult to the mid-majors, the committee placed the Shockers against Dayton, a fellow mid-major. And in one of the weirdest spreads ever in a 7-10 matchup, the 10-seed Shockers are -6 point favorites over at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

The most glaring number for the Shockers is that they are the No. 8 ranked team in the country over at KenPom.com and also fairly high at a number of other metrics. But while they coasted through the MWC, it can't be ignored that they lost to all of the relevant non-conference competition (Louisville, Michigan State, Oklahoma State). They were seeded low because their best wins came against non-tourney teams. As for Dayton, it makes a little more sense, coming from the more difficult Atlantic 10, even though they've lost their last two games.

But while Wichita State is under seeded, the 6-point spread does seem a bit large. The Flyers have loads of experience with a roster compiled of seniors that have made multiple runs in the NCAA tournament. And in their toughest non-conference games, the Flyers didn't lose any of them by more than four points, losses against St. Mary's and Northwestern included.

Wichita State also has plenty of experience, although most of its players are juniors and have played minimal roles in previous relevant teams. That said, the Shockers were in the play-in game last year and then went on to upset Arizona in the first round. Of course, Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker and Evan Wessel were major players on that team.

The main drawing point for both of these teams is that they are extremely balanced and have a slew of good shooters. Conner Frankamp and Landry Shamet may be two of the best shooters in the country at close to 45% from deep, while Markis McDuffie is the guy that could go off from other areas of the court for WSU. McDuffie can shoot too, but he's also a slasher and draws a lot of fouls alongside Darral Willis. In the middle, Shaquille Morris does all the ugly work, but he can be an offensive focal point if needed as seen in recent 20-point games.

The funny thing is that Dayton matches up almost exactly to what Wichita State has, which is why this spread is a bit interesting. The Flyers don't have as good of shooters, but when it comes down it, guys like Charles Cooke and Scoochie Smith can hit shots along with Xeyrius Williams and Darrell Davis. The big thing for them will be holding their own on the glass because Wichita State is a team that doesn't get beaten often in rebounding. That's where Kendall Pollard and maybe even Josh Cunningham come in. 

The Dayton group of seniors made a surprising run to the Elite 8 as freshmen and is hoping to do the same in their final season. Sure, a lot of those guys came off the bench in that run, but Scoochie Smith and Pollard made names for themselves in that tournament. The Flyers are getting underrated simply because Wichita State should've been a better seed. But these teams are extremely similar and the six points seems a little big for two experienced teams looking to make a point.

Our Pick - Dayton +6

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