Wichita State Shockers forward Cleanthony Early (11) and forward Carl Hall (22) and guard Fred Van Vleet (23) celebrate after beating Ohio State. (Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports)
LOS ANGELES - There might or might not be any shockers at the Final Four in Atlanta, but there will be Shockers.
Wichita State Shockers.
For the first time in 48 years.
A lot of people said just about anything might happen in this supposedly wide-open tournament, and that was especially true of the West Regional, where the Nos. 1, 3, 4 and 5 seeds didn't survive the first weekend.
Then No. 2 seed Ohio State went down Saturday, despite an amazing, heart-stopping rally late in the second half.
No. 9 seed Wichita State, after blowing nearly all of a 20-point second-half lead, held on for a 70-66 victory.
Ohio State, which trailed 56-36 with 11 minutes left, got as close as three points down the stretch, but the suddenly shocked Shockers made just enough plays to secure the win.
This was Wichita State's first regional final in 32 years, and the Shockers will be going to the Final Four for the second time in school history. In 1965, they lost a national semifinal to John Wooden's second championship team at UCLA.
Wichita State played rugged and quick defense the whole game and had a couple of sudden offensive bursts that made the difference, particularly an 8-0 first-half run that gave them a 25-15 lead.
At the Final Four, the Shockers (30-8) will play the winner of Sunday's Louisville-Duke Midwest Region final.
Ohio State (29-8) had won its last 11 games but was knocked on its heels from the start by the more aggressive Shockers.
For three-quarters of the game, Wichita State was significantly better in nearly every category, especially rebounding, holding a double-digit advantage much of the game.
And Ohio State shot miserably most of the game - around 25% for a long time. Overall, the Buckeyes shot 31.1%.
Wichita State point guard Malcolm Armstead got the better of his more heralded counterpart, Ohio State's Aaron Craft, and that set a tone.
Armstead had 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Craft missed 10 of 12 shots and finished with nine points, seven rebounds and two assists.
Shockers forward Cleanthony Early and backup guard Fred VanVleet had 12 apiece.
Ohio State leading scorer Deshaun Thomas had 23 points but missed nine of 13 shots in the first half. LaQuinton Ross, the hero of Thursday's regional semifinal victory against Arizona, had 19 points.
The first two possessions of the game showed how it was going to be.
Wichita State forward Carl Hall blocked Ohio State's first shot attempt, a drive by Lenzelle Smith Jr.
Then Ohio State center Amir Williams blocked Wichita State's first shot attempt, a drive by Armstead.
Two of the toughest defenses in the country were going to go it with intensity.
Ohio State missed its first seven shots, and not because the Buckeyes are terrible shooters. They just had a hard time finding a shot attempt that didn't come with a Wichita State hand in their faces.
The Shockers weren't exactly lighting it up offensively, either, as the game lumbered along with scores of 9-7 and 13-13 and, with eight minutes to go in the half, 17-15 Wichita State.
Then, out of nowhere, the Shockers exploded to an 8-0 run in 58 seconds to take a 10-point lead.
The Buckeyes had a hard time responding, as Thomas and Craft were ice cold and so were some of their teammates against the Shockers' man-to-man and zone defenses.
Ohio State shot 24.2% overall in the first half, 20% on three-point attempts.
Wichita State led 35-22 despite shooting just 35.5%.
Early in the second half, the Shockers extended the lead, and when Wichita State guard Ron Baker was fouled on a three-point attempt and made all three free throws, the Shockers had a 20-point lead - 51-31 - with 12:39 left.
But it would not be easy. Not at all, as the Buckeyes charged almost all the way back.