Wichita State Shockers: 29-0 And Ranked 2nd In The Nation


Wichita State Shockers head coach Gregg Marshall cuts down part of the net Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Four months ago, if someone would have told you that on February 25th, a team from the state of Kansas would be undefeated and ranked 2nd in the country, would you have guessed it would be the Wichita State Shockers? No? Me neither.

The Wichita State Shockers have followed up an improbably run to the Final Four last season, where they had a legitimate chance to beat the eventual champions, the Louisville Cardinals, with an equally improbably 29-0 (16-0 in conference play) start to this season.

They have two more Missouri Valley Conference games this week – Tuesday at the Bradley Braves (12-17, 7-9), then they host the Missouri State (18-10, 8-8) on Saturday. The Bears played the Shockers closer than any team this season. Wichita State needed overtime to beat Missouri State by three on the road on January 11th.

This week, the Shockers are ranked 2nd in the nation in the AP poll, the Coaches poll, and the CBSSports.com Top 25 (and one) poll. The Florida Gators ranked ahead of them in every poll. Wichita State is 8th in the CBSSports.com RPI. Take a look at all four ranking right here.

Statistically, very little stands out about the Shockers, at least offensively. Four players do most of the damage on offense – Cleanthony Early scores 15.8 points and grabs 6.0 boards. Ron Baker knocks down 13.0 points, gets 3.6 rebounds, and records 3.2 assists per contest.

Wichita State Shockers forward Cleanthony Early (11) – Credit: USA Today

Fred Van Vleet pumps in 12.3, pulls down 4.1 rebounds, dishes out 5.3 assists, and records 2.0 steals a game as the point guard. Tekele Cotton rounds out the foursome with 10.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.4 assists.

All four of these players average between 27 and 32 minutes a game but 5 other Shockers average 12 of more minutes. Gregg Marshall is not afraid to use his bench whenever necessary.

The Shockers are an average offensive team, netting just 75.8 points a game, but they hold opponents to just 60.8 point average, a 15.0 scoring margin. They only hit 45.4% of their field goals but opponents hit just 40.2% against them, and just 30.9% from behind the line.

They out rebound their opponents by 8.1  game, and they block 5.1 shots on average. They lead the Missouri Valley in turnover differential by 2.38 a game, a full turnover a game better than the second place team. (Thanks to the Missouri Valley Conference stat page.)

The Shockers have dominated their opponents all season long winning by an average of 15 points a game. Only five games have been won by less than 11 points. If you are going to play inferior competition, like the Shockers must play being in the MVC, they are at least winning like they should be – by a strong margin, game after game.

If the Wichita State Shockers can make it through the last two regular games unscathed, and win three games in their conference tournament, they deserve a number one seed. Period. At that point, they would be 34-0. It doesn’t matter who they played; they earned it.

Any team that follows up a Final Four appearance with an undefeated season, deserves a number one seed, without debate.

Tuesday’s game against Bradley will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. CST.

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