Wichita State Shockers vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Pick-Odds-Prediction 11/12/13
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (0-0) at Wichita State Shockers (1-0)
College Basketball: Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at 12:59 am (Charles Koch Arena)
The Line: Wichita State Shockers -13.5 -- Over/Under: See the Latest Odds
The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers get their season underway with a tough road test as they travel to Wichita to face the 16th ranked Shockers as part of ESPN’s college hoops tip off marathon, Tuesday at 1AM.
Western Kentucky has high expectations entering this year after a slightly disappointing 2012-13 campaign (20-16). Western Kentucky returns most key players and should feature one of the most experienced starting lineups in the Sun Belt conference. Four starters return and guard TJ Price looks prime for a big year after hitting 81 3-pointers last season and averaging 15.2 points per game. Price is more of a scorer, so the Hilltoppers will need to find a steady facilitator and will likely give the first opportunity to guard Kevin Kasper. Brandon Harris is a bid rebounding guard and George Fant anchors the post (12.8 ppg, 7rpg). Western Kentucky led the nation in production from deep last season and are expected to be a high scoring offense.
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Wichita State got off to a 1-0 start Friday night as they ran all over Emporia State 93-50. Cleanthony Early picked up where he left off in the Shockers deep post season run last year by scoring 21 points to lead all scorers. Early scored it in the post and from deep and will be leaned on heavily this season by this veteran squad. Fred VanVleet scored 12 points and added 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals in 24 minutes of play. Wichita State shot 50% from deep and forced 23 Emporia turnovers, while only managing 9 themselves. Wichita State had a +12 advantage on the glass as well. With so much depth and experience, the Shockers have the schedule to break into the top 10 in the coming weeks with continued strong play like this.
Western Kentucky was on the short end of some close losses last season and should be much improved this season with their entire team returning. Unfortunately for the Hilltoppers, Koch arena is an extremely difficult place to play and should be rocking for this nationally televised ESPN2 contest. I expect the Hilltoppers deep shooting to keep it close for a half before the Shockers make the necessary adjustments and use their depth and athleticism to run away with the game and the cover at home -- check back for the line.