To say that Wichita State is on a roll is almost an understatement. Ever since the triple overtime loss to Drake, Wichita State is on a six game win-streak, with two wins over Missouri State, a win over Indiana State, UNI, Creighton and Davidson. Out of those six big wins, three were on the road, MSU, Creighton, and Davidson which add more W’s to the already impressive road record the Shockers have. If you haven’t heard, Wichita State has the best road record of any Division 1 program in the entire country over the past two years.
To take the impressive record to another level, the last four wins have had an average margin of victory of 19.5 points. When Wichita State wins, they punish teams. The Shockers have really hit a great stride, and picked the right time to do it. Not only are they winning in style, but the national media is taking notice. The team has a ranking of 24th in the AP and 26th in the Coache’s poll. I fully expect that Wichita State will crack the Top 20 come Monday.
Speaking of getting more respect on a national level, recently this week, a group of media individuals did a mock NCAA tournament selection process, and Wichita State was given a coveted 4 seed. With talk around Shocker Nation this season that Wichita State might not receive an at-large bid, we’ve gone to the opposite end of the spectrum and people are talking that WSU will receive a protected seeding (1-5 seeds are protected, meaning that for the first 2 rounds, they won’t be at a home-court disadvantage).
With all of that said, reflecting back onto Wichita State in relation to The MVC, the Shockers recently clinched at least one half of The Valley championship this season. To be in sole possession of first, Wichita State must win just one of their last two games in conference. If WSU wins their match-up on the road against Illinois State this Wednesday, then they will have clinched sole possession of the regular season championship. The only way that Wichita State shares the title with Creighton would be for Wichita State to lose against Illinois State and Drake, and Creighton would have to beat Evansville and Indiana State.
The Shockers have been playing solid basketball the past couple weeks and it’s evident in the all around play of multiple players. Joe Ragland carried the team against Davidson, scoring 30 points, and having 7 rebounds and 1 assist as well as shooting 11-14 from the field, 3-4 from 3-point range, and 5-5 from the line. Toure Murry had 16 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and 1 steal. Carl Hall wrapped up the great performances against Davidson with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal. Garrett Stutz may have been ineffective against Davidson due to the size & quickness match ups, but he made up for it in the Shocker’s previous game against Missouri State. Stutz had a double-double, recording 21 points, 10 rebounds and 1 assist. David Kyles and Ben Smith came up big against MSU by scoring 12 and 14 points respectively.
The most impressive stat line for recent games comes from the Wichita State at Creighton game. The Shockers had four starters in double digits, and two more players right on the cusp of hitting double digits. Ragland came up big once again, in a big game situation, scoring 24 points, and recording 6 assists, 4 rebounds and 1 block. Ben Smith scored 22 points, and snatched up 6 boards. Toure Murry and Demetric Williams both scored 11 points, Carl Hall scored 9, and Stutz scored 8.
Wichita State needs to keep a level head and close out the regular season strong by beating Illinois State on the road, and then Drake at home. If they can do that, the Shockers will be sole winners of The Valley regular season. After those two games are over, we can focus on Arch Madness in St. Louis. Until then, let’s enjoy the ride, and soak up the national coverage, because Wichita State is one of, if not the hottest teams in the country.