Dashaun Wood, showing off his funky belt, led the Raiders to a upset with in the Horizon League Championships.
WRIGHT STATE RAIDERS
SKINNY: I just want to say that I just, in my head, guessed Wright State’s nickname correctly. I said ‘I bet they’re the Raiders.’ And I was right. And no, I’m not losing my mind and talking to myself about random college basketball teams from Ohio. (That’s right, Mr. Oden, you will win the tournament this year.) Errr, I mean, moving along. Wright State was given a No. 14 seed after beating Butler for the Horizon League Championship and an automatic bid. It’s a good thing the Raiders did beat Butler, because when you lose to Bowling Green, at home to boot, your chances of acquiring an at-large bid tend to dissipate.
HISTORY: The Raiders have only made one previous appearance in the NCAA tournament, which occurred way back in 1993. That Wright State team fought its way to a No. 16 seed and played a back and forth game against No. 1 Indiana. And by ‘back and forth,’ I mean the opening tip-off had some drama. They lost by, well, whatever the margin of 97-54 is. I was never very good at subtraction of that magnitude.
STRENGTHS: The Ramblin’ Raiders (yes, I made up the Ramblin’ part) are a solid defensive team, ranking 31st in the nation in points allowed. They aren’t a big group, but they’ll cause some turnovers and play a cohesive game in front of the basket. Coach Brad Brownell keeps the intensity up by using a deep, nine-man rotation. That’s a luxury that No. 14 seeds don’t always have.
WEAKNESSES: Size, rebounding, and, you know, that other important basketball trait…uh, generally scoring points. This is another team that doesn’t shoot the 3-ball especially well, which is key for a team as a catchup tool. Other than that, they’re like, right there.
KEY PERSONNEL: Wright State will live by the team or die by team. Senior G Dashaun Wood is the gunner with nearly 20 points per game, but the rest of the group plays within the flow of the contest.
INTANGIBLES/OUTLOOK: Well, they should at least do better than the 1993 team. I don’t know if that’s really much of a consolation, though. The Raiders are matched up against No. 3 Pittsburgh, and I don’t think many are considering this to be an ‘upset alert’ game. In fact, more people probably have Pittsburgh getting to the Final Four than have Wright State advancing one time. Still, the Raiders do have some of the components of an upset team with a strong defense and selfless game plan. Plus, they lost by 68 points in 1993, (wait, did I forget to carry a number there?) and that’s just not right. Karma dictates something good happens this year.
- Andy Goldstein