Wichita State Shockers Climb To 5th Nationally With Two More Wins


Wichita State Shockers forward Cleanthony Early (11) Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

With two more wins last week, the Wichita State Shockers (17-0, 4-0) remain unbeaten, and have now moved up to 5th place in the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll. The Shockers remain one of just four undefeated teams in the country.

Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com evidently has forgotten about the NCAA Tournament last season when the Shockers made it to the Final Four. Wichita State is merely proving that it wasn’t a fluke but Parrish, who puts together the CBSSports.com’s Top 25 (and one) continues to give the Shockers little respect.

He has them ranked 13th in the nation. One assumes he is basing his ranking on whom the Shockers have played. Hey, they can only beat the teams that will play them, or have to play them. Even the CBS RPI has them ranked 10th.

Wichita State Shockers guard Ron Baker (31) Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Wichita State’s two wins last week came against Illinois State at home, and Missouri State on the road. The Shockers handled the Redbirds with relative ease, beating them 66-47, but were in a dog fight against the Bears. The Shockers pulled off a squeaker, winning 72-69 in overtime, thanks to a great ball game from Cleanthony Early, who had 22 points and 14 rebounds.

So far this season, Early leads the Shockers in scoring with 16.6 a game, and rebounds with 6.9 an outing. Ron Baker adds 13.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.4 assists. Fred Van Vleet pitches in with 12.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 5.4 assists.

This week, Wichita State plays host to the Bradley Braves (6-11, 1-3) tonight, then face their biggest conference test to date when they take on the Indiana State Sycamores (13-3, 4-0) on the road Saturday. The winner will take over the lead for the Missouri Valley.

The Shockers will certainly be challenged by the Sycamores, who are a very balanced basketball team. They have 5 players average in double figure scoring, and 9 players that play at least 10 minutes an outing. While Indiana State is a very tough opponent, they have played the 201st hardest schedule, compared to the Shockers, who have played the 70th most difficult. The Sycamores are ranked 63rd in the RPI.

The Shockers’ remaining schedule is nothing like the schedules of the other unbeaten teams. The Arizona Wildcats, Syracuse Orangemen, and Wisconsin Badgers all play in top tier conferences, and will be tested game after game. It is doubtful any will remain undefeated.

Wichita State has to just keep beating whomever they play. If they want a number 1 or 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, they will not be able to stumble even once with their overall schedule.

With every win, the excitement grows as the Shockers try to stay unbeaten in the regular season. They are as tough a team as any out there. They don’t get rattled , and they play hard at all times, on both ends of the court. It is hard not to pull for them every game.

It should be a fun two months in Wichita!

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