The Wichita State Shockers (23-0, 10-0) have maybe their biggest tests of the conference season this week when they play road games against the Indiana State Sycamores (17-5, 8-2), and the Northern Iowa Panthers (5-5, 11-11).
The Shockers, of course, are trying to finish the season undefeated.
This week, Wichita remained at number 4 in the AP poll, moved up to 2nd in the Coaches poll, 6th in the CBSSports.com poll, and 7th in the CBSSports.com’s RPI. (click here for a look at all four polls). The Shockers still haven’t impressed all voters because of their easier schedule. Wichita State has only played one team in the RPI top 25 teams, and only 3 total of the top 50.
The Shockers are coming off a 14-point win against Evansville, a team that beat them twice a year ago, but now must face the second best team in the Missouri Valley Conference Wednesday, Indiana State, on the road. WSU beat the Sycamores by 20 at home on January 18th.
Cleanthony Early still leads the Shockers in scoring with 16.2 a game, and in rebounding, 6.5 a contest. Ron Baker adds 12.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.0 assists. Fred Van Vleet continues to be the floor general for Wichita State, scoring 12.1 points an outing, 4.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.9 steals.
For the most part, Wichita State, under Van Vleet’s direction, does a good job taking care of the basketball. The commit just 10 turnovers a game, while forcing 13. They are also beasts on the backboards, despite no big, physical types underneath. They average 39.8 caroms a game while holding their opponents to 31.1 rebounds.
While the Shockers are not the most beautiful team on offense, they make up for it by playing hard nosed defense. Wichita State scores just 74.7 points a game, but they hold opponents to 59.5 points, a differential of 15.2 points.
They challenge shots nearly every possession, holding the opposition to just 39.4% shooting from the field, and just 30.2% from behind the arc. Both marks lead the conference.
Yes, the Wichita State Shockers are undefeated, and yes, they are beating inferior competition, but they are winning handily almost every game out.
They will be tested this week on the road but if they stay focused, they should still make it through the week unscathed.
Wednesday night’s game at Indian State is on ESPN3 at 7 p.m. CST, so you can watch it online, as long as you don’t live in a state with a Missouri Valley Conference school. For some unknown reasons, the game is blacked out in the areas where there is the most interest.