A smart bracket will have Wichita St. as a Final Four darkhorse


The secret’s out on No. 24 Wichita State. Now the only question is how many people will buy into the Shockers as an elite team?

After their incredible second half Saturday at Davidson – WSU hit 20 of 25 shots to pull away for a 91-74 win in its BracketBusters game – they should be a popular pick among Final Four darkhorses. (Seth Davis already has ‘em in his.) They’re 24-4, seemed poised to clinch the Missouri Valley title over a more-heralded Creighton team and are one of the few teams in kenpom.com ratings with an elite offense and defense.

Only six teams – Kentucky, Ohio State, Michigan State, Kansas, Syracuse and North Carolina – feature teams with an adjusted offense and defense in the top 20. WSU just misses that (its defense sits at 23), a sign of impressive balance and talent. This isn’t new. But the funny thing is the Shockers aren’t ready to label themselves as an elite team.

“This gives us a quality win and will enable us to move up… if not the top 15, then the top 20,” junior guard Demetric Williams said after beating Davidson. “Hopefully this gets us into the (NCAA) tournament.”

Hopefully? Demetric, you’re in. The only question is how far into the tournament you’re going.

Wichita State starts five seniors in Toure’ Murry, Garrett Stutz, Ben Smith, David Kyles and Joe Ragland, who burned the Wildcats for 30 points, hitting 11 of 14 shots. Throw in junior Carl Hall and Williams, and it’s a rotation with height (Stutz is 7-feet), defensive ability (Murry can guard most any player) and skill (smith and Kyles are solid from outside), not to mention a guy in Ragland who can get hot as well as anyone.

Davidson coach Bob McKillop will attest to that.

“He didn’t miss too many shots. He threatened you from 3-point land. He threatened you from the drive. He threatened you in transition and in half court. He did a nice job of controlling the offense. He was sensational,” he said.

WSU has it all. Now it just remains to be seen if all those pieces can result in something historic come March.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
AP Photo
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.


PHOTO: South Carolina gets new uniforms

Frank Martin
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South Carolina debuted some new uniforms early this week as the school is going with a fresh look and three color ways.

They’re also going to with the “Carolina” branding this season, but I think these new uniforms look pretty cool.