Thanks to a barrage of second-half three-pointers — seven straight, in fact — No. 9 Wichita State sank top-seeded Gonzaga 76-70, giving the Bulldogs the dishonorable distinction of the being the first No. 1 seed to go down in this year’s tournament. They also became just the 15th No. 1 seed not to make it out of the tournament’s first weekend since 1985.
Gonzaga already had its hands full with Southern in Thursday’s first round, squeaking out a 64-58 win, but couldn’t quite get over the hump against the Shockers, who have reclaimed the Cinderella status once achieved back in 2006.
The West Region, already a post-apocalyptic bracket wasteland with five lower seeds winning their first-round matchups, now gets even more chaotic. Wichita State will face the winner of Sunday’s game between No. 12 Ole Miss and No. 13 La Salle. One of those three not-so-heralded teams will be playing in the Elite Eight.
Gonzaga had long since surrendered underdog status, especially when it ascended atop the national top 25 for the first time in program history. A No. 1 seed further validated Coach Mark Few’s efforts, and the buzz began swirling around whether the Bulldogs could make an extended run.
The hot-shooting Shockers quickly ended that.
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Granted, 40 minutes opposing Wichita State’s best outing of the season shouldn’t diminish Gonzaga’s success this season. But on a day when March darlings VCU and Butler succumbed to a similar fate, it was only fitting that the Bulldogs leave the dance early too.
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