Wichita State is Undefeated Too

8 Jan

There are five undefeated teams left in college basketball. Can you name them? They include the top two teams in the country, Arizona and Syracuse, Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin Badgers and perhaps the current favorite in a deep Big 12 Iowa State led by perhaps the country’s most influential transfer in DeAndre Kane. The last member of the shrinking undefeated club is a 2013 Final Four participant, Wichita State.

The Shockers are currently 15-0 heading into their third conference tilt tonight as they play host Illinois State. They finished off the 2013 portion of their schedule 13-0 with wins over potential NCAA Tournament teams like BYU, Tennessee, Alabama and Davidson. While their offensive numbers don’t jump out at you, the other side of the ball shows a different picture. Coach Gregg Marshall has a top 24 team in scoring defense (61.6 points per game) and turnover margin (+3.9) , top eight in turnovers per game (9.3) and a top 75 team in field goal percentage defense at 40.5%. Those numbers make the 77 points and 39 rebounds per game more than enough to win more than they lose.

Making the unblemished record even more impressive is the fact that the Shockers had to replace their second and third leading scorers off of last year’s squad in Carl Hall (who was also the team’s leading rebounder) and point guard Malcom Armstead. One of the big reasons for the smooth transition has been the increased production of the team’s three-headed guard combo junior Tekele Cotton and sophomores Ron Baker and Fred Vanvleet have combined to average 16.6 more points per game than they did last season. Vanvleet also took over the point guard duties and is averaging over five assists per contest. The team is led by senior forward Cleanthony Early and his 16.6 points and 6.5 boards per game. Making up for some of the inside muscle the team lost when Hall graduated is the 6’9 266lb. senior forward Chadrack Lufile who has had his minutes doubled over last season and taken advantage of the opportunity by doubling his rebounding output and averaging 5.7 points, more than tripling his production last season.

Creighton may be gone from the Missouri Valley giving the Shockers what many thought would be free reign over the conference. Make no mistake the Wichita State is the best team in the Valley, but remember the team that went to the Final Four suffered five conference losses in the regular season (none to Creighton), three on the road and were swept by Evansville. So while the MVC isn’t the ACC, Big Ten or Big Twelve, continuing to rack up wins will be no easy task for the Shockers. They may or may not be the last undefeated team standing, but if they are they will have earned it and have the team to prove last year’s run was far from a fluke.

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