Indiana State Sycamores vs. Wichita State Shockers - 2/5/14
Wichita State Shockers (23-0) at Indiana State Sycamores (17-5)
College Basketball: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:05 pm (Hulman Center)
The Line: Indiana State Sycamores +4.5 -- Over/Under: TBA See the Latest Odds
TV: MVC TV / ESPN3
The Indiana State Sycamores will try to become the first team to bring down the visiting Wichita State Shockers (only 1 of 2 remaining undefeated teams in Div. I), as the Hulman house will be hoppin’ on Wednesday for arguably the biggest game of the MVC season.
After Indiana State suffered their worst performance a week ago, they bounced right back for a mild upset at Northern Iowa on Saturday night. Their starters all played well as all tallied double-figures in scoring. Leading the way with 18 points were Dawon Cummings and Khristian Smith. Smith earned a double-double as he snagged 13 rebounds. The Sycamores shot 46% from the floor – just below their season average of 47%. They were right on cue with 39% three pointers made, which matched their season average. Perhaps the difference which pushed them past the Panthers was 30 made free throws. Indiana State is clearly the 2nd best team in the conference, but they haven’t had too many impressive wins other than beating the then 19th-ranked Notre Dame Irish. The poster boy of ISU’s basketball team is Jake Odum, who has quietly become one of the all-time greats in Sycamore history. He leads the team with 12.3 ppg and 106 assists with only 42 turnovers. He is great at getting the whole offense involved and creates open shots for teammates, while making tough contested shots. There are 4 others who average 10+ points per game, which include Manny Arop (11.5 ppg), Dawon Cummings (11.2 ppg), Justin Gant (11 ppg), and Khristian Smith (11 ppg). Greg Lansing sports a record of 40-10 in home games as Sycamores head coach. They sit at 8-2 in the league and this is their only chance to catch the leading Shockers.
Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
Wichita State moved even higher up the national rankings – now up to #2 in the USA Today Coach’s Poll. They posted 2 ordinary wins at home (vs. Loyola by 12 & Evansville by 14) to chug along at 10-0 in conference play. The Shockers shot 46% in their last tilt vs. Evansville – slightly above their average 44% from the floor. They were down by double-digits halfway through the first half, but then proved too strong the rest of the way. This is a team that has shown it can shift to another gear during the game to wear down their opponents and go on serious runs. They are especially great in second halves of games, outscoring their opponents by 222 points. Their rebounding margin is one of the best in the country at +8.7, leading to numerous 2nd-chance points for themselves and not many for the opposition. Cleanthony Early is the frontrunner for Valley POY at 16.2 ppg and 6.5 boards per game. This team has 3 guys who are reliable down the stretch from the free throw line, as VanVleet, Baker, and Early shoot around 85% from there. There may be no better point guard in the nation that Sophomore Fred VanVleet at dishing out assists while taking care of the ball (122 assists to 31 turnovers). The Shockers are not easily phased away from their homecourt and will bring that swagger into the Hulman Center on Wednesday night.
This is a rematch of Game 1 which was played on the Shockers’ home court, as they took care of business and were no match for Indiana State (68-48). Look for this one to stay tight throughout. I could easily see an upset here as the Sycamores have had this game marked on the calendar since December or sooner. But Wichita State is well aware that if they jump this hurdle, they could be primed for an undefeated season before the Big Dance. Knowing that Wichita State is a better 2nd half team, I’ll take the Shockers in about a 6-point win, as they pull away from a small deficit in the 2nd half. Personally, I just want to enjoy this one as it’s tough pickin’.