With Eight games left in the season Wichita State University is at an outstanding 23-0, the WuShock rank fourth in the nation. WSU is one of only two remaining unbeaten teams, the other is the top-rated Orangemen of Syracuse.
The Shockers average 75 points per game behind forward, Cleanthony Early. In addition to scoring 16 points a game, Early’s ability to rebound the basketball (7 RPG) also a reason the small, mid-market school in Kansas ranks among the top 20 in rebounding.
However, despite the accolades and success thus far this season – and a remarkable run through the NCAA tournament, last year – it’s hard to accurate judge just how good these Shockers really are. WSU has yet to play against a ranked opponent this season. When the brackets are announced, there’s going to be plenty of experts, analysts, and fans alike skeptical of the Shockers potential tournament success.
What Wichita State has anything going for them most is their stellar team defense. They allow only a mere 60 points per game and rank among the top 15 in total defense. The Shockers uncanny ability to capitalize on the offensive end after forcing turnovers is remarkable, defensive stops turn into transition opportunities and this team knows how to capitalize on opponents mistakes.
Sophomore Guards Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet are also unique scoring options. Baker and Van Vleet, collectively, average close to 30 points per game between the both of them — both need to bring their best effort when March rolls around. Stars, like Early – a senior – don’t often put forth a lackluster effort during tournament time, it’s the secondary playmakers such as Baker and Van Vleet that will need to produce a tad-bit more if the Shockers hope to take down some of the country’s elite opponents.
Sometimes undefeated teams entering the tournament are pegged with inexplicable claims such as, “well, they haven’t fought through adversity,” or, “what happens when they have to play from behind, they’re so used to being ahead.” Earlier this season WSU found themselves down by 19 points at the hands of Missouri State. Yet, behind senior leadership — playing disciplined, possession based basketball — the Shockers rallied back and defeated the Bears in overtime.
Coach Gregg Marshall has done an overwhelmingly great job instilling confidence in all of his players. Experience is one of the best tools this shocker team uses as an asset. Wichita State has an impressive tournament resume that is likely going to be prioritized when the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee determines the four, number-one seeds. The Shockers earned a Final 4 Bid last season after taking down Ohio State in the tournament’s “Elite 8.” Last Years
WSU ended last season with a record of 26-8. They lost a few games late in the season, but, bounced back onto the proverbial postseason horse and, led by their Junior sensation in Early, made an impeccable run through one of sports greatests competitions of today.
Look for Wichita State to make its Return to the Final Four this year. Consider them a threat to return to the promise land, and don’t be surprised if they avenge last season’s disappointing loss to the Louisville Cardinals in the tourny’s final game. The Shockers are going to make a run at a National Championship, again, and it would be the first time since the school cut down the nets back in 1989.