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NCAA notebook: Wichita State no longer in Kansas

Louisville guard Wayne Blackshear (20) shoots over Oregforward Arsalan Kazemi during first half regional semifinal NCAA college basketball tournament Friday

Louisville guard Wayne Blackshear (20) shoots over Oregon forward Arsalan Kazemi during the first half of a regional semifinal in the NCAA college basketball tournament, Friday, March 29, 2013, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

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Updated: May 7, 2013 6:14AM

ATLANTA — Its coach, Gregg Marshall, has Southern roots. One of Wichita State’s big guns, Cleanthony Early, is from Middletown, N.Y. Another, Malcolm Armstead, is from Alabama. Two other starters, Carl Hall and Tekele Cotton, are from Georgia.

‘‘I didn’t know much about [Wichita],’’ Early said Friday. ‘‘Had to do my research.’’

‘‘Found it was in Kansas,’’ Armstead said. ‘‘First thing that came to mind was ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ like Dorothy.’’

‘‘When I first heard the word ‘Wichita,’ I’m thinking, a small country town,’’ Hall said. ‘‘People walking around with cowboy boots on.’’

They know they’re not in Kansas anymore. They’re in Atlanta, two games away from winning the national championship.

On steroids?

The Shockers also know defense.

‘‘They’re the best team we will have faced at the defensive end,’’ Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. ‘‘They are Marquette on steroids in terms of the way they play defense.’’

The Cardinals, who have cruised past their first four NCAA opponents by 21.8 points a game, are the popular pick to handle Wichita State and the Michigan-Syracuse winner on Monday night. The Shockers trust in their defense, though.

‘‘Except that we’re not on steroids, it’s a definite compliment,’’ Marshall said. ‘‘I hope it’s true. If we’re ‘Marquette on steroids,’ that will give us a great chance.’’

Local angle

When Kentucky won the national championship last year, Chicago’s very own Anthony Davis was a center of attention. If Louisville follows the Wildcats, Wayne Blackshear will give another Chicagoan the opportunity to cut down the nets.

Like Kentucky, Louisville carries the burden of expectations. And like Kentucky, Louisville has no problem with that — especially after losing to the Wildcats in the Final Four a year ago.

‘‘We feel the bull’s-eye,’’ said Blackshear, from Morgan Park, ‘‘but we feel like we really want it, especially since we’re back here for the second year.’’

No Ware

With Kevin Ware sidelined by a broken leg, the Cardinals’ guard corps will be thinner. But Black-shear said they’ll be up to the task.

‘‘Tim Henderson is going to have to step up,’’ Blackshear said, mentioning a 6-2 junior who’s averaging only 4.2 minutes in the tourney. ‘‘People don’t know it, but Tim is a great player. He’s had to guard Russ [ Smith] and Peyton [ Siva] in practice; he’s going to show his talent.’’

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