Wichita State Shockers vs. Evansville Purple Aces - 2/1/14
Evansville Purple Aces (10-12) at Wichita State Shockers (22-0)
College Basketball: Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 3:00 pm (Charles Koch Arena)
The Line: Wichita State Shockers -20 -- Over/Under: TBA See the Latest Odds
The nation’s fourth-ranked team, the Wichita State Shockers hope to continue their Missouri Valley Conference dominance when they host the Evansville Aces on Saturday afternoon at Koch Arena.
The Shockers were kind of lackluster in their last defeat over Loyola-Chi on Tuesday, posting a 57-45 victory. They shot just 36% from the floor, but held the visitors to just 35% (Loyola shoots 48% on the season) in what has become a usual trend for the stingy Shocker defense. They also outrebounded the Ramblers by 16, increasing their rebounding margin over opponents to +8.5 on the season. Cleanthony Early is the clear frontrunner as the conference’s player of the year, carrying a 16.1 scoring average with 6.7 boards per game. Fred VanVleet tallied 9 assists last game to stay around his remarkable 4:1 assist to turnover ratio. He scores 12.8 ppg with his sophomore mate Ron Baker at 13.4 ppg. The Shockers play a blue-collar brand of basketball and everyone works so well together. They never take a break during the game and aren’t easily frazzled and that has been a recipe for an unblemished record. They have grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat in 2 Valley games in which they trailed at halftime and things didn’t look too promising. The poise on this team is exceptional – maybe a benefactor of having gone to the Final 4 last season.
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The Evansville Aces are just 2-8 on the road this season with their lone league road win coming against the SIU Salukis. Despite being handed a 14-point loss at Northern Iowa last time out, sharpshooter DJ Balentine scorched the nets for an impressive 43-point performance. Fellow sophomore Blake Simmons, the coach’s son, added 11 points. The rest of the team didn’t come to the aide though, and this has been the norm for the Aces this season – trying to find guys to contribute offensively after their top 3 scorers for each game. Evansville shoots decent at 47% and 38% from three-point land. They are not a strong rebounding team which will hurt them against one of the nation’s best rebounding teams. The Aces have played a lot better of late, winning 3 of their last 6, but playing competitively in nearly all of them. The young Aces are finding out what it takes to do that in the league and they should improve next season provided the core of players return.
This game has blowout all over it, but I just don't know how jacked the Shockers will be to face another below-average team. I’m pretty sure Gregg Marshall is not too pleased with their last game’s offensive production and they shouldn’t find it too difficult to score on a mediocre defense at best. Meanwhile, they will probably focus on containing the Aces go-to-guy, DJ Balentine, and if that happens, there is nobody else to step up and give them many points. I don't like the spread, but if you're willing, go for the Shockers here - just a lean though.