NCAA tournament team previews: Wichita State Shockers
As part of its preview of the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team’s national rank. For more teams, click here.
Record: 34-0, 18-0 in Missouri Valley Conference
Adj. Offense/Adjusted Defense: 117.6 (8th)/92.8 (10th)
Seed: No. 1 in Midwest
Impact player: Fred VanVleet: 11.8 points, 5.3/1.4 A/TO ratio, .430 3-point pct.
The Case For:
It’s simple: Nobody’s beaten the Shockers. Wichita State became the first D-I team in a decade to finish the regular season unbeaten, and it followed with the program’s first Missouri Valley Conference title since 1987. The Shockers won their MVC tourney games by an average of 20 points, and they hit at least nine three-pointers in each tournament contest during that run. In all, Fred VanVleet, Cleanthony Early, Ron Baker and Tekele Cotton all shot at least 35 percent from deep on the year. That three-ball accuracy has helped the Shockers enter the Big Dance as the first undefeated team since UNLV in 1991.
The Case Against:
Who has Wichita State played? Wins over BYU, Saint Louis, Tennessee mark perhaps the most impressive victories on the team’s résumé. That’s a mere 3-0 record against the RPI top 50, which is a big reason why the Shockers’ strength of schedule ranks 102nd in the country. Wichita was slightly more prone to turnovers against those three teams, as well -- it gave the ball up 12.3 times compared to its season average of 10.4. The Shockers will need to take care of the rock in order to quell criticism about its lack of big-game experience.
SI Prediction: Beat Texas Southern in second round, beat Kentucky in third round, beat Louisville in Sweet 16, beat Duke in Elite 8, beat Arizona in Final Four, lose to Florida in national championship game. View complete bracket predictions from SI.com’s panel of experts