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Washington State or Drake? How to pick 7 vs. 10 matchup in 2024 March Madness bracket | Sporting News

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Washington State hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2008. Drake hasn’t escaped the first round since 1971. One of those droughts is set to end Thursday night.

The Cougars enjoyed their best season since the Tony Bennett era, emerging as the second-best team in the Pac-12 after more than a decade as an afterthought. While the future is uncertain with Washington State headed to the West Coast Conference as an affiliate member next season, a sweep of Arizona proved the Cougars can be dangerous in the big dance.

Drake, meanwhile, heard all of the hype about Indiana State and put it to rest. The Bulldogs won the Missouri Valley Conference and earned a No. 10 seed, reaching the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last four years. Led by Tucker DeVries, is this the year Drake gets over the hump and reaches the second round?

Here’s a complete breakdown of Washington State vs. Drake, including odds, rosters and picks.

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Washington State vs. Drake odds

 

A close matchup is expected between Washington State and Drake, which is to be expected for a 7 vs. 10 battle.

Early odds have the Cougars as a slight 1.5-point favorite, according to odds from BetMGM.

  • Odds: Washington State (-1.5)
  • Date: Thursday, March 21
  • Time: 9:55 p.m. ET
  • TV: TruTV
  • Arena: CHI Health Center, Omaha, Neb.


Washington State (24-9, 14-6 in Pac-12)

Washington State spent much of the season outside most projected tournament fields, but the Cougars left no doubt down the stretch, winning 10 of their last 12 games including a road win over Arizona to complete a season sweep.

The Cougars were efficient, shooting 46.6 percent from the field, and they used size to their advantage by finishing top-40 nationally in both rebounding and blocks.

Washington State is led by coach Kyle Smith, who is making his NCAA Tournament debut as a head coach. Smith, who previously coached at Columbia and San Francisco, is in his fifth season in Pullman and has a 93-70 record as Cougars coach with no losing seasons.

  • NET ranking: 44
  • KenPom ranking: 42
  • Quad 1 record: 6-4
  • Quad 2 record: 3-4
  • Quad 3 record: 7-1
  • Quad 4 record: 8-0
  • Offensive efficiency ranking: 64th
  • Defensive efficiency ranking: 27th

Key players

Myles Rice (6-3, 180-pound redshirt freshman guard)

15.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists

Isaac Jones (6-9, 245-pound senior forward)

15.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists

Jaylen Wells (6-8, 205-pound junior forward)

12.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 42.0 3-point percentage

MORE: Watch 2024 NCAA Tournament games live with Sling

Drake (28-6, 17-3 in MVC)

Drake is back in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last four years, this time with a higher seed and elevated expectations. Why? Partly the play of Tucker DeVries, who is one of the nation’s most impressive scorers while playing for his dad.

The Bulldogs are coached by Darian DeVries, who is in his sixth season at Drake. DeVries has revitalized the program in Des Moines, guiding the Bulldogs to six consecutive seasons of at least 20 wins including a regular season MVC title in his first season leading the program.

While Drake has been a force among mid-major teams for the last six seasons, the program’s NCAA Tournament success in that span is limited to a 2021 First Four win. The Bulldogs were a popular upset pick against Miami last season, but the offense didn’t live up to expectations against a Hurricanes team that ultimately reached the Final Four.

Now, Drake has as strong of a chance as ever to advance past the first round.

  • NET ranking: 47
  • KenPom ranking: 51
  • Quad 1 record: 4-1
  • Quad 2 record: 3-3
  • Quad 3 record: 9-2
  • Quad 4 record: 11-0
  • Offensive efficiency ranking: 38th
  • Defensive efficiency ranking: 75th

Key players

Tucker DeVries (6-7, 210-pound junior forward)

21.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists

Darnell Brodie (6-10, 275-pound senior forward)

11.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists

Atin Wright (6-1, 185-pound junior guard)

13.9 points 2.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists

MORE: Biggest March Madness snubs

Washington State vs. Drake prediction

Drake is reliant on its offense, and that offense disappeared in last year’s first-round matchup with Miami despite the Hurricanes’ defensive limitations. Washington State’s defense might be even tougher to crack.

The Cougars rank 27th in adjusted defensive efficiency, and they’re holding opponents to just under 67 points per game this season. Opponents are also shooting just 32 percent from 3-point range against Washington State, which is bad news for a Drake team that depends on its outside shooting.

While the Bulldogs have four double-digit scorers, this is still an offense largely dependent on Tucker DeVries. That’s dangerous in the NCAA Tournament. DeVries averages nearly 22 points per game, and anything less would be troubling for Drake. 

Washington State’s offense is far from dominant, but it is less volatile. Four players average more than nine field goal attempts per game, compared to two for Drake. Myles Rice and Jaylen Wells have traded big performances while Isaac Jones handles business in the paint.

Size is also a potential disadvantage for Drake. Washington State is a strong rebounding and shot-blocking team, while Drake is bottom-25 in the nation in blocks per game and doesn’t rebound particularly well. Darnell Brodie is an imposing presence in the paint for the Bulldogs, but he’s not much of a shot-blocker and no other Drake starter is taller than 6-7. Jones and Oscar Cluff should be able to go to work for Washington State in the paint. 

Both of these teams have arguably played down to competition at times but risen to the moment against tougher opponents, as each has a winning record in Quad 1 games. That shouldn’t matter much here, unless Washington State is foolishly overlooking Drake. That would be surprising, and Kyle Smith’s Cougars should be in position to earn a potential second-round matchup with Iowa State.

History of 7 vs. 10 matchups in NCAA Tournament

Overall, No. 7 seeds hold a 93-59 advantage over No. 10 seeds since the NCAA Tournament bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1985. That would make Washington State the better pick historically, with a 61.2 winning percentage for No. 7 seeds over the last four decades.

However, it’s also worth noting that a No. 10 seed has won at least one game in each NCAA Tournament since 2008, when Stephen Curry led Davidson to an upset win over Gonzaga before a storybook run to the Elite Eight. Only one No. 10 seed has won in each of the last two seasons, though. 

Below is a breakdown of the wins 10-seeds have enjoyed over 7-seeds since 2009:

Year Result
2023 Penn State 76, Texas A&M 59
2022 Miami (FL) 68, USC 66
2021 Maryland 63, UConn 54
  Rutgers 60, Clemson 56
2019 Florida 70, Nevada 61
  Iowa 79, Cincinnati 72
  Minnesota 86, Louisville 76
2018 Butler 79, Arkansas 62
2017 Wichita State 64, Dayton 58
2016 VCU 75, Oregon State 67
  Syracuse 70, Dayton 51
2015 Ohio State 75, VCU 72
2014 Stanford 58, New Mexico 53
2013 Iowa State 76, Notre Dame 58
2012 Xavier 67, Notre Dame 63
  Purdue 72, Saint Mary’s 69
2011 Florida State 57, Texas A&M 50
2010 Georgia Tech 64, Oklahoma State 59
  Missouri 86, Clemson 78
  Saint Mary’s 80, Richmond 71
2009 USC 72, Boston College 55
  Maryland 84, Cal 71
  Michigan 62, Clemson 59
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