Two teams that figure to play deep into the NCAA Tournament square off Wednesday in the championship game of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational as No. 12 Notre Dame meets sixth-ranked Wichita State at the Lahaina Civic Center in Hawaii. The Fighting Irish have outscored their first five opponents by an average of 29 points but will be tested by a deep Wichita State team averaging 90.5 points per game.
After opening tournament play with a 92-82 win over California, the Shockers dominated the paint in Tuesday’s 80-66 victory over Marquette. Guards Landry Shamet and Conner Frankamp combined to score 32 points, while forward Rashard Kelly contributed six points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks in his first start of the season. Wichita State has dominated its two tournament games despite shooting 12-of-44 from 3-point range, and that figure may need to improve to keep pace with a Notre Dame team averaging 10 made 3-pointers per game. Fighting Irish sophomore T.J. Gibbs made six 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 26 points in Tuesday’s 92-53 win over LSU, while the senior trio of Matt Farrell, Bonzie Colson and Martinas Geben combined for 39 points.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT WICHITA STATE (4-0): Center Shaquille Morris averages a team-high 17.5 points and six rebounds for the Shockers, who left quite an impression on Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski following Tuesday’s contest. “They have outstanding coaching. They have tremendous experience. They have terrific offensive balance. They have a pro point guard. They have a strong identity in roles and definition, and they’ve got a terrific bench,” Wojciechowski told reporters. “Other than that, they’re not very good.” Marquette struggled against the Shockers’ tough perimeter defense, shooting 9-of-33 from beyond the arc.
ABOUT NOTRE DAME (5-0): LSU entered Tuesday’s matchup riding high following a 77-75 win over Michigan, but the Tigers fell behind early and were outclassed by the Fighting Irish, who shot 51.6 percent from the field and 15-of-32 from 3-point range. A consensus preseason All-American, Colson recorded a career-high five steals against the Tigers and is averaging 19 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. Farrell recorded a season-high seven assists in Tuesday’s win and has knocked down a three-pointer in 31 consecutive games, the longest streak of any active player in the ACC.
1. The teams last met in the 2015 Sweet 16, when Notre Dame dominated the second half of an 81-70 victory.
2. Wichita State has won 16 straight regular-season games dating back to last season.
3. Notre Dame is holding opponents to 59 points per game on 36.2 percent shooting from the field and 28 percent from 3-point range.
PREDICTION: Notre Dame 87, Wichita State 83