Where to Watch
Location: UD Arena, Dayton, Ohio
Tip Time: 9:10 p.m. EST
Television/Streaming: truTV/March Madness Live
DraftKings Betting Line: Indiana -4, O/U 132.5
They’re some high-falootin’ rootin, tootin’, sons of guns from ol’ Wyoming and they’re ready to knock the first Big Ten team out of the Tournament.
Wyoming has all it takes to be a Cinderella team during the month of March. A stellar big man threat in the post, sniper three-point shooter and a young up-and-coming coach. Can the Cowboys upset the Hoosiers and make a run through the Big Dance?
There aren’t many more balanced teams in the country. Wyoming ranks in the top 66 of both offensive and defensive efficiency. They also are the 32nd best two-point shooting team, and that is in large part due to the play of Graham Ike.
Ike is one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult player to guard in the nation. He is deadly with his hook shots around the rim, which is a huge reason why he takes the 12th highest percentage of a team’s shots in the country and draws the fourth most fouls. When he doesn’t get his shot to fall in, he’s there for the rebound, averaging 9.6 per game. He also averages 19.6 points per game, making him one of the best all-around big men in the country.
Jeff Linder Wyoming squad playing old school basketball in Laramie and I love it. Get your PRO the ball late in the game clear out the side and let Graham Ike bring you home. No need to get cute and overcomplicate things. #GoPokes pic.twitter.com/TutpAJ2AEY— Clint Parks (@ClintParks05) February 4, 2022
With every star big man, you need a few compliments. It starts with forward Hunter Maldonado who is not only one of the most used players in the nation but is top ten in assists while draining nearly half of his shots. Three-point specialist, Drake Jeffries, came over from junior college and has been a key piece too. He is veraging 10.5 points per game while shooting 42% from behind the arch. He ranks in the top 50 of offensive rating, effective field goal percentage, and true shooting percentage. That’s not exactly all he does though. On defense, he creates turnovers, ranking 43rd in the country in turnover rate.
It was all brought together by a young head coach in Jeff Linder, whose Cowboys were projected to finish tied for eighth in the preseason poll. They finished fourth.
Now, as they’ve been almost all season, the Cowboys come into this game as underdogs. They’ll look to extend their season at least another day, opening the dance in Dayton.
These are two teams who are going in opposite directions, something that is not good for mid-major fans. Wyoming finished the regular season losing two of three and was dominated by Boise State in the Mountain West semifinals. Indiana won two of its three Big Ten Tournament matchups and seems to be peaking at its level of play right now. If Wyoming wants to win this game, Ike will have to feast down low against the discrepancy in size that Indiana has. But, if Trayce Jackson-Davis goes off along with the rest of the star guards the Hoosiers have, it’s end game. I say that Indiana pulls off the close win tonight and advances to play Saint Mary’s 70-66. The play for me in this one would be the over.