WICHITA STATE (14-3, 5-1 MVC) AT INDIANA STATE (11-6, 2-4 MVC)
Time/TV: 7 p.m./ESPNU
Location: Hulman Center
RPI Ratings: Wichita State 31 (No. 3 Missouri Valley); Indiana State 91 (No. 5 Missouri Valley).
Wichita State Players to Watch: G Toure’ Murry, 6-5 Sr. (12 ppg, 3.1 apg, 5.1 rpg); C Garrett Stutz, 7-0 Sr. (12.1 ppg, 7 rpg, 56.2% FG); G Joe Ragland, 6-0 Sr. (12.6 ppg, 3.4 apg, 57.3% FG). Ragland has scored in double-figures in 10 of his last 11 games, including 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the Shockers’ 65-62 win over Illinois State on Tuesday.
Indiana State Players to Watch: G Dwayne Lathan, 6-3 Sr. (12.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 52.9% FG); G Jake Odum, 6-4 So. (10 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.9 apg); G Jordan Printy, 6-4 Sr. (8.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 38.9% 3s).
Storylines: The Shockers and Sycamores were expected to contend with Creighton for MVC supremacy this season. Wichita State has kept up its end of the bargain, starting league play at 5-1 (tied with Creighton). Indiana State, on the other hand, is 2-4 after going 9-2 in the pre-conference season.
What You Should Know: Indiana State defeated Wichita State, 61-54 in last year’s MVC Tournament, dashing the Shockers’ NCAA Tournament dreams. The Shockers are 3-0 on the road in the Missouri Valley, but Evansville, Southern Illinois and Bradley aren’t considered to be on the same level as the Sycamores, despite their slow start in league play. With no true go-to player, Indiana State has often struggled to score this year, but it has been its defense that has surprising let it down of late. They Sycamores have given up 79, 77, 65, 69, 80 and 73 in their six MVC games, four of which have been losses. That’s good news for the Shockers, whose offense has been rolling. They are averaging 77.5 points per game this season and have scored at least 78 points in four of their six conference games. Despite the 5-1 start in the Missouri Valley, Wichita State has shown some inconsistency, particularly inside of games. They have let leads slip away before holding on against Southern Illinois and Illinois State. At Terre Haute, that could get them in trouble. Stutz, if he can stay out of foul trouble (always an issue with him) should have a big advantage against the smaller Sycamores.
The Bottom Line: Indiana State really needs this game. That coupled with the Shockers’ inconsistency could lead to a small upset. In the end, though, the Shockers’ offensive balance will be the difference.
The Pick: Wichita State 79, Indiana State 75.