Wichita State Shockers vs. Drake Bulldogs - 2/22/14
Drake Bulldogs (14-13) at Wichita State Shockers (28-0)
College Basketball: Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 8:00 pm (Charles Koch Arena)
The Line: Wichita State Shockers -18.5 -- Over/Under: TBA See the Latest Odds
TV: ESPN 3
The Wichita State Shockers are now the only undefeated team in Division I basketball. The Shocker faithful will be ready to cheer the #3 ranked team onto another W as they host the Drake Bulldogs on Saturday evening in Wichita, Kansas.
Wichita State didn’t have too difficult a time knocking off their last opponent, Loyola, as they won on the road by 14. They led by 7 at the break, but pretty much cruised the rest of the way. With the win, they secured a #1 seed for Arch Madness in a couple weeks. They continued to shoot well from the field, hitting 49% of their shots and connecting on 31/34 of their free throws. As a team, the Shockers have made 84% of their free throws. They had just another typical day of rebounding, as they had 17 more than the home team. They come in with a +8.1 rebounding margin as everyone continues to contribute on the glass. Sophomore point guard Fred VanVleet tallied 6 assists to bring his total to 147 assists for the season to just 39 turnovers! He is also a reliable scorer with 12.2 ppg and should garner consideration for Valley POY. But he will have contention from teammate Cleanthony Early (Sr – FW) who has been steady all year, and averages 16.3 ppg and 6.1 boards per game. There are 7 Shockers who average better than 5 points per game and the Shockers have great depth, which allows them to play extremely hard to 40 minutes, usually leading to their opponents to be worn out down the stretch.
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The Drake Bulldogs got off the snide with a hard-earned (at least down the stretch) 3-point win to visiting Northern Iowa on Tuesday night. It shouldn’t have come to that, as Drake had built a 20-point lead hallway through the 2nd stanza before a furious comeback ensued by the Panthers. Drake shot 44% from behind the arc, as that has been the key to wins this year, along with clutch free throw shooting, which was on display against UNI. The Bulldogs lead all Valley teams with a 40% mark on 3-pointers, which will be highly tested against the league’s #1 3-point defense. Senior guard Richard Carter racked up 39 total points in Drake’s last 2 games, while going 13-of-24 from the field. He leads the team in scoring at 17 ppg, and is 1 assist shy of 100. He ranks fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference in scoring at 17.0 points per game. Drake also goes 9-10 players deep and gets good contribution from the bench. There are 5 guys who average 9 points or more, but there are others who contribute a little each game. When trying to find an angle against a team like Wichita St., I look at rebounding, and Drake is decent at +1.7, so they shouldn’t be manhandled like some other teams have.
1st year head coach Ray Giacoletti of Drake has his hands full in this one and has seen periods of major acclimation to this league, which is still very competitive even though down this year. But they have played very well in their last 4 games. I look for that to continue and Wichita State has allowed their opponents to score more lately. If they clamp down defensively, the Bulldogs will get blown out of the water. But I think Drake will hang around 8-14 points for most of the game, so I like Drake in this spot, especially the way they’ve battled lately.