No Coast – No Problem
Whether it be a Beach, Shore, or Hurricane, this landlocked Shocker squad has had no issue navigating the sea this year. With wins over Long Beach State, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, and Maryland Eastern Shore, Wichita State has started the year 4-0 for the fourth time in the last five years. Gregg Marshall‘s team has been an offensive juggernaut of late (93.2 points per game), and the Shockers hope to continue their efficient approach to scoring in the Bahamas. The Shockers will play three games in three days, starting on Wednesday against Louisiana State University.
NEXT GAME DETAILS
Set the scene
Both teams are undefeated going into Wednesday’s game, but both WSU and LSU have yet to play an opponent in the top 150 of KenPom.com rankings. The best competition WSU has faced this year was against Long Beach State, currently ranked 156th on KenPom; LSU’s top opponent so far has been Wofford ranked 227th on KenPom. Both teams are fairly young, with the meat of the roster coming from the junior class. WSU and LSU only have two seniors each on their rosters, with most minutes coming by way of blowout victories. LSU recently lost Ben Simmons to the NBA, as well as Wichita State losing icons Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet to the NBA.
WSU is 4-1 all-time against the Tigers of LSU, winning the last four meetings. LSU’s one victory against the Shockers came back in 1981’s Elite Eight match-up that showcased Cliff Levingston and the Big Dawg, Antoine Carr. Although Wichita State leads the overall series, when playing on a neutral court, the series is tied at 1-1.
Keys to Victory
- Defense, defense, defense – The Shockers have to shut down the Tigers who are averaging 82.3 points per game. LSU ranks 99th in adjusted offensive efficiency (AdjO) on KenPom, but the Tigers’ toughest defensive opponent this year has been Wofford, ranked 249th. Wichita State is currently ranked 7th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency (AdjD).
- Clean the glass – Gregg Marshall emphasizes rebounding every day of his life. If Windex ever needed a spokesperson, HCGM is their man. Wichita State has out-rebounded opponents 179-118, with an average margin of 15.25 more rebounds per game. LSU has only out-rebounded their opponents 114-111. If LSU can’t hit shots, they should expect a long game being out-rebounded in the Bahamas.
- Who steps up – The strongest aspect of Wichita State so far this year has been the depth of the bench, and the ability for Gregg Marshall to send in waves upon waves of fresh legs. Will the bench continue to produce, and not just produce, but produce efficiently? Currently through four games, Wichita State’s bench has scored 206 points. Through four games, Wichita State’s opponents have scored 226 in total. Before the UMES game, Wichita State’s bench actually had outscored the other three universities’ total for all players, 151-147.
- LSU scores under 65 – If the Shockers can hold LSU under 65, they likely win and move on to the semi-finals. Over the last two seasons and into the first four games of this current 2016-17 season, Wichita State’s overall record is 60-14, but when Shocker opponents score 65 or more, WSU is just 9-9. If Wichita State “plays angry” and with mental intensity, LSU’s players might be looking for the Gatorade by the second half.
After day one of the Battle for Atlantis, two more days of holiday hoops fun continues. Wichita State is slated to play three games in the Bahamas, and will face the winner or loser of Louisville and Old Dominion. If the Shockers win against LSU, they will be playing at 1:30 PM CST on Thanksgiving day, on the main flagship, ESPN. With the potential of a Final Four rematch with Louisville on Thanksgiving day, in front of a national TV audience, there is plenty to be excited about as a Shocker fan this Thanksgiving 2016.
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