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Wichita State Shockers vs. Missouri State Bears - 3/1/14

Missouri State Bears (19-10) at Wichita State Shockers (30-0)

College Basketball: Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 2:00 pm (Charles Koch Arena)

The Line: Wichita State Shockers -16.5 -- Over/Under: TBA See the Latest Odds


The Wichita State Shockers will have added pressure in their home game against Missouri State to become the first undefeated team in the regular season since St. Joe’s accomplished that feat 10 years ago.

Wichita State has pretty much cruised through the MVC schedule and they are expected to do the same in their conference finale on Saturday afternoon in one of the loudest and toughest places to play in all of college basketball. The Shockers handled Bradley easily on the road, slowly distancing themselves on the scoreboard before routing the Braves by 20 in front of a sold out crowd. The Shockers hit key shots and did not allow any run from the home Braves. They did get outrebounded, which rarely happens for a team with a +8 rebounding margin on the season. This team continues to win with unselfish play, solid free throw shooting, and stingy defense. Sophomore point guard Fred VanVleet’s assist to turnover numbers are flat out astonishing, as he has compiled 157 assists to just 40 turnovers. He is also a reliable scorer with 12.3 ppg. Alongside him is fellow sophomore Ron Baker at 13.1 ppg. It’s so hard to find the team’s MVP, but the player who gets the most hype is senior Cleanthony Early who has been steady all year, and averages 15.7 ppg and leads the team in rebounds (5.9 per game). No other Shocker averages 5 boards per game, which is amazing considering they outrebound opponents by such a wide margin.

Wichita State Shockers vs. Missouri State Bears - 3/1/14

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri State is a nice story this year – a team decimated by injuries to arguably their 2 best players - but have rallied around each other to win games. Third year head coach Paul Lusk has found combinations that work and get enough scoring to find themselves in 3rd place (3-way tie) in the league. They have been sensational at home with just 2 losses, but have faltered on the road at 4-7. The player that has really picked up the scoring slack after these injuries is senior Jarmar Gulley at 14.9 ppg and 6.4 rebounds per game. He has had help lately, and the return of senior Keith Pickens to the line-up gives them a big boost for the remainder of the season, as he can be a productive scorer and rebound, and gives this team energy and leadership. There are a handful of guys who contribute nearly every game, like Austin Rudder (8.8 ppg), Christian Kirk (6.4 ppg) , Ron Mvouika (7.0), and the afore-mentioned Pickens (6.9 ppg). They shoot 44% from the floor, 37% from behind the arc, and 72% from the free-throw line. The Bears have won 7 of their last 11 games and can take solidify the #3 seed in the conference tournament with a win on Saturday.

I just don’t see a win happening for the Bears despite them being the only team really to threaten the Shockers all season. They did have a 19-point lead in their own building before the Shockers made a monumental comeback that may be the hump that they needed to get over to stay perfect to this point. The crowd will be rockin’ and the Shockers are destined for a perfect season and should even be undefeated up until the Big Dance. This line is tricky because there's the pressure for the Shockers to continue to make history, and I expect Missouri State to give it all they've got with a lot on the line, but I expect the Shockers to make one more statement to show the country what they’re made of.

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