The most intriguing Sweet 16 matchup might be Wichita State vs. Notre Dame. It’s a matchup of Fred VanVleet and Jerian Grant that has alot of college basketball fans salivating, as the two are considered by many as the best point guards in the country.
First, you have VanVleet, who isn’t the scorer that Grant is, however there might not be a more well-rounded guard in the NCAA. So far the junior guard has averaged 22 points and 5 assists in the NCAA Tournament. In addition, VanVleet accounted for six steals in the Shockers wins over Indiana and Kansas.
Then you have Jerian Grant, who might be the best scoring guard in the country. The senior has only had three games scoring in single digits, and like VanVleet is an excellent passer. Grant contributed 10 assists during the Irish’s ACC Tournament win over UNC.
It’s going to be a battle between the two as they lead their respective team’s into the Sweet Sixteen. However, it’s going to take a lot more than just solid point guard play to win this matchup, as both Wichita State and Notre Dame feature a slew of options on their rosters.
Wichita State has one of the premier two guards in the country with Ron Baker, whose 14.9 points per game lead the Shockers scoring attack. Also, the team boasts guard Evan Wessel, who despite his 6’4 frame was able to record nine rebounds during the team’s third round win over Kansas.
Despite playing in the ACC, Notre Dame didn’t get the amount of attention it deserved. That’s a shame because the Irish are every bit as good as other ACC team’s such as Duke and North Carolina.
Like Wichita State, Notre Dame has a solid collection of guards. In addition to Grant, the team boasts Demetrius Jackson who chips in with 12.4 points a game, and swingman Pat Connaughton who is able to play at both guard and forward.
The x-factor for the game might be Notre Dame forward Zach Auguste, who is the team’s leading rebounder with 6.4 boards a game. Auguste will be matched up against Shockers big man Darius Carter, who is a full three inches shorter than him.
The Shockers are averaging just over 39 rebounds per contest, which is five more than that of Notre Dame. With a fairly even backcourt, the battle of the frontcourt is going to be extremely critical for both teams.
The team’s matchup extremely well, with the slight edge going to Wichita State. Notre Dame will need a monumental scoring game from Grant, and Auguste will need to win the battle down low, both of which are entirely possible. However, the combo of VanVleet and Baker should be enough to upend the Grant and Jackson backcourt.
In a perfect world the third-seeded Irish would move on, but this is March and anything can happen.