How is that a No. 9 seed happens to be a 4-point favorite in the Sweet 16?
Its simple if you are Wichita State. You just pull a pair of upsets, including dumping top-seeded Gonzaga, and then wait for a No. 13 seed like the LaSalle Explorers to join you in the Round of 16.
Two teams that didn't figure to do much damage in this NCAA tournament meet to decide a spot among the final eight in a West Regional semifinal Thursday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles (10:15 pm ET, TBS).
Early this week, most March Madness odds menus were listing the Shockers as a four-point favorite with an OVER/UNDER of 135.
How did these two bracket-busters get to Thursday's game and what trends points to them continuing their Cinderella ways?
Wichita State went 11-1 through its non-conference schedule, beating, among others, VCU and Iowa. The Shockers then went 12-6 in a Missouri Valley Conference that despite a decent reputation only sent two teams to the NCAA tournament. WSU then made it to the MVC tournament title game, where it lost to Creighton.
The ninth-seeded Shockers then began this NCAA tournament with a 73-55 victory over Pitt last Thursday, then knocked off No. 1-seeded Gonzaga Saturday 76-70 to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2006.
On the other side of Thursday's match-up LaSalle went 10-3 during non-con play this season, picking up wins over Villanova and Iona, then went 11-5 in the Atlantic 10, which ended up sending five teams to the NCAA tournament. And despite losing their regular-season finale (to St. Louis) and their first game in the conference tournament (to Butler), the Explorers received an at-large invitation to the Big Dance for the first time since 1992.
LaSalle then opened this tournament with an 80-71 victory over Boise State in a Wednesday night play-in game last week, then upset Kansas State Friday, then outlasted Ole Miss Sunday 76-74. So the Explorers are playing in the Sweet 16 for the first time since Tom Gola and the boys went all the way to the NCAA championship game back in 1955.
On the season LaSalle is 7-5 SU and 5-6 ATS against teams that made the NCAA tournament, including its three wins last week.
Wichita State is 4-2 SU and 3-2-1 ATS in games versus tournament teams this season.
As of early this week on the NCAA basketball futures market, Bovada was offering 13/4 on Wichita State to win the West Region and 40/1 to win the NCAA tournament, while LaSalle was getting 9/1 to win the West and 66/1 to win the tournament.