What to Expect: Wichita State

  • 03/19/2015 9:13 am in

After missing the postseason altogether last season, Indiana makes its return to the NCAA tournament on Friday afternoon as the No. 10 seed in the Midwest Region. The Hoosiers will face No. 7 seed Wichita State, which last played on March 7 against Illinois State in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

The Shockers, ranked No. 14 in the Associated Press top 25 poll, are 28-4 and had a nine-game winning streak before falling in the MVC tournament. Friday’s tip time is scheduled for approximately 2:45 p.m. ET on CBS with Marv Albert, Chris Webber and Len Elmore on the call.

OMAHA, Neb. – Indiana finds itself in an unfamiliar position in the NCAA tournament. Unlike 2012 and 2013, when the Hoosiers were heavy opening-round favorites, this Indiana team is an underdog.

The combination of Indiana being slotted in as a No. 10 seed, which is higher than most anticipated, along with the the belief that Wichita State was under-seeded by the selection committee as a seven, has the Hoosiers as a 5.5-point underdog as of Thursday morning.

A LOOK AT THE SHOCKERS

As we alluded to in our first look at Wichita State, the Shockers rely heavily on a pair of guards for success. Juniors Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet, who were both first team All-Missouri Valley Conference selections, both played significant roles on last year’s team that went undefeated in the regular season and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Baker is the team’s leading scorer at 15 points per game and is shooting 38.5 percent on his 3s. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, he’ll be a tough matchup for the Hoosiers on the perimeter and his ability to get shots off of screens is something IU must be prepared for defensively off of switches. He’s also a solid defender with a block percentage of 2.9 and a steal percentage of 2.5. As a refresher, here’s a look at Baker’s shot chart this season via Shot Analytics:

031615

VanVleet, Baker’s backcourt counterpart, is equally important in making the Shockers go. His assist-to-turnover ratio is better than 3-to-1 on the season and he’s the team’s second leading scorer at 12.7 points per game. VanVleet is both physical and aggressive off the dribble, which makes him effective at getting to the foul line. His free throw rate (FTA/FGA) is 46 percent on the season and he knocks down 79.1 percent of his attempts from the stripe. VanVleet also ranks just outside of the top 50 nationally in steal percentage at 3.8.

Senior Tekele Cotton is the team’s fourth leading scorer at 9.6 points per game and has won the Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year award twice. Cotton isn’t a great 3-point shooter (29.2 percent), but his experience as a player who is entering his fourth NCAA tournament is pivotal.

Two others who played key roles on last year’s team that started out 35-0 round out the Wichita State starting five. Senior forward Darius Carter, who is 6-foot-7 and 245 pounds, averages 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds and could be a problem for Indiana on the glass. Carter owns a solid offensive rebounding percentage (10.6) as well as a very good defensive rebounding percentage (20.1). Carter is making 52 percent of his 2s this season, but is shaky from the foul line at 62.6 percent.

Junior Evan Wessel is a low usage offensive player who fills his role well. At 6-foot-4 and 218 pounds, Wessell makes the occasional 3 (33 percent) and rarely turns it over (12.1 turnover percentage).

Three freshman and a junior center who is 6-foot-11 round out the rotation for the Shockers. Freshman Shaquille Morris, a Missouri Valley All-freshman team selection, is 6-foot-7 and 261 pounds. He’s making nearly 55 percent of his 2s and uses 21.2 percent of the team’s possessions while on the floor. Freshman Rashard Kelly also stands 6-foot-7 and is a very good offensive rebounder from a percentage perspective at 11.1.

Freshman Zach Brown provides perimeter depth and he’s hit 50 percent of his 3s and 55.2 percent of his 2s, albeit on limited attempts. Rounding out the rotation is 6-foot-11 Bush Wamukota, who could see spot minutes, but averages just 1.2 points and 1.6 rebounds per game.

TEMPO-FREE PREVIEW

031915wichstate

As the numbers indicate, there aren’t many holes in the Wichita State profile. The Shockers rank in the top 20 nationally in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency and the fact that they play at such a deliberate pace puts an extra emphasis on Indiana not giving away any possessions.

The Shockers don’t turn the ball over, hit the glass hard on both ends and really don’t have a glaring deficiency on their profile. They’re not great at defending the 3 (34.4 percent allowed), but hold the 19th best 2-point defensive field goal percentage in the country. They also do an excellent job on the defensive glass as opponents are only grabbing 27 percent of their missed shots on the season.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

KenPom likes Wichita by 6, with a 26 percent chance of Indiana pulling the upset. Sagarin likes Wichita by 4.5 and the current Vegas line sits at 5.5 points.

In terms of landing a matchup that is favorable from a size perspective, Indiana probably couldn’t have done much better than Wichita State as the Shockers don’t have a true post player to rely on. However, Wichita State’s offense, one that features a lot of ball screens and two very tough players to cover in VanVleet and Baker, offers a stiff test for an Indiana defense that has struggled all season.

Guard play is always talked about as a primary factor to winning in college basketball, but it gets an added emphasis in March as last season we saw a Shabazz Napier-led Connecticut team ride his play all the way to the national championship. This game is likely going to come down to which team is better in its backcourt, which puts a lot of pressure on a pair of freshman, Robert Johnson and James Blackmon Jr., to not give up much ground against one of the nation’s best guards and a future pro in Baker.

With Wichita State’s ability to keep the game played in the halfcourt and its ability to take care of the ball, Indiana is going to need one of its best performances of the season in terms of taking care of the ball and a hot shooting performance from the perimeter to move on past the Shockers.

Filed to:

  • Khoosier3

    I just don’t know what to expect anymore!?!?!

  • Kyl470

    Just play man to man defense and pressure the ball. Please don’t play much zone and don’t do the whole change defense halfway through a possession. Hopefully this game gets up into the 70’s in points since IU has only won one game this year that was played in the 60’s.

  • Ben thorne

    Stop their guards as best you can. We have too many guys that can score for them to stop us. When they step out go around and make a smart pass or get to the line…..I like us in this game.

  • TomJameson

    I think keys will be … in no particular order …
    1 – Take care of the ball, just don’t give it away.
    2 – Defensive intensity and focus.
    3 – Hit the boards hard, because the Shockers will.
    4 – Hit the threes!
    5 – Bring the assists up! Means your playing team ball and more likely to win!

  • SCHoosier

    U think Yogi will take VanFleet to disrupt their offense..or be put on Baker given he’s their top scorer? Personally I’d rather see Yogi guarding their PG (VanFleet.).and let the bigger Rob Johnson take on the sturdy Baker. I suspect their defensive whiz Cotton will take Blackmon and James will guard him given Cotton has not been an imposing offensive threat. Our bigs in this game have a real chance to influence the outcome IU most play some D and take care of the ball.

  • Ben thorne

    Well said. I think our front guys will absolutely decide this game

  • IUBizmark

    I believe IU can side step that amazing defense with some transition buckets and that will earn us a few points. I highly doubt WSU has seen a fast break quite like ours. I also would bet that Troy is going to be the X factor. If he can score or get to the line, then we have a chance. Our guards (Yogi and Zeisloft) can take care of themselves offensively and more than match the production WSU will get from their guards.

  • yimyames

    Drive, drive, drive, drive, and get to the line.

  • Reading this line got me thinking: “In terms of landing a matchup that is favorable from a size perspective, Indiana probably couldn’t have done much better than Wichita State as the Shockers don’t have a true post player to rely on.” Perhaps the selection put IU at a 10 and WSU at a 7 precisely to create this matchup? It _is_ just a tad coincidental that IU gets paired against the one team that it has a height advantage against.

    Seems counterproductive to getting a hot WSU-KS matchup in the second (third?) round, but just found it interesting how things worked out.

  • IUfanToby

    Fully expect WSU to pressure us hard on the perimeter to take away our shooters. Dribble penetration is going to be key, and Troy is going to be the X factor. Should be a tight game, let’s go Hoosiers!

  • Tcuomo

    I would have preferred Reggie Miller on the call

  • Lance76

    Would love to see Hartman get a three from the start and pull big from basket letting the driving lanes open. I am impressed with the play of EH, and hope HMP can pick and roll with Yogi. My team is on the floor!

  • IU Coop

    Griffith plays better D and has a good jump hook. Or so I’m told. These days, I’d rather watch his re-runs too…

  • Gregory Spera

    Just excited to get to watch the Hoosiers play (at least) one more game. I will have to watch later, off the DVR, however. I’m obligated to attend a funeral during the game, itself. Hope that is not an omen.

  • iugradmark

    Amen

  • Hoosierkamp

    This game couldn’t be a better matchup for Holt and Troy. They can have a huge huge huge impact and can own the glass with there size and ability to get the basketball. Offensive boards = win this game. I think RJ and Yogi can slow down Baker and VV

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    holy crap that is one sobering scouting report! i agree though, we’d better show up with an attitude and hit our 3’s. and then maybe, just maybe, we get em rattled enough to make just enough mistakes. and who knows, maybe eh comes out aggressive and plays an inspired game. if so, and if our shooters are shooting, i like us by 5.5.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    i agree re: TW, but i’m a bit worried. he seems to disappear against solid defenses. either that, or he becomes a turnover machine. just hope he plays with composure.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    if their defense is as good as advertised, i think we’ve gotta be smart enough to take what they give us, which may be a healthy dose of 3-balls. however, off the record i think we have a golden opportunity to send them packing for one big holiday.

  • dwdkc

    Kind of odd in that they are known as a tough defensive team but don’t have a rim protector, yet their statistical Achilles heel is 3 pt defense. Suggests to me they sell out at stopping stuff in the paint and take their chances by leaving the 3 point line when doing so. That is not a good plan for defending IU. So the matchup is interesting. I would expect Cotton, the stopper, is on JBJ so I hope JBJ is patient and sets up others if he has to.

  • b_side

    Going to be some funky backcourt cross matches, especially as fouls mount up. No matter what, Wessel (6’4) guards Troy, right? If we get 30 minutes of Good Troy, we have a real shot.

  • iugradmark

    I think Holt is the only big that is 100% healthy. I hope he gets the bulk of the minutes and they don’t try Yogi or Stan guarding their bigs.

    On defense, it is time to simplify what we do. Play man, stop the ball, play through screens, etc. We need to stop all the junk defensive stuff and focus on what the kids can do. If you can’t get into a defensive stance or you play matador defense, go sit for a while until you get the message. It is embarrassing to be one of the worst defensive teams in the country and it is really frustrating to cause our own problems with all of the goofy defensive stuff we try.

  • millzy32

    I don’t want to see Zeisloft passing up any open looks. If he is open even for a brief second I want to see him firing. We will need to hit at least 12 3’s to win so bombs away baby.

  • millzy32

    I like your keys so I will order them. Put number four at number 1 and move number one to number 2. Then let the others fall where they are already and you have a great list.
    Hit 3’s
    take care of the ball
    defense, step it up
    board
    pass it around and get some actual assists

  • pbhuff

    Though this might be a good game for Troy because WSU has no one that can matchup with him

  • They are a tough defensive team but against what level of competition. What would their defesive metrics look like after a B1G season. What would ours look like after a season in the MVC. Feel like this is getting overlooked by all the talkinig heads. How did they do against the top 50 this year again? This seems like a pretty evenly matched contest. Go Hoosiers!

  • Hoosier Hall

    Nice, the old Norman Dale reference.

  • TomJameson

    I think their best defensive guy will be on Yogi. In my mind there is no doubt about it.

  • yimyames

    I don’t think they are gonna be giving up open 3s due to their good d. That’s pretty much our only offensive strength.

    Now, if we can get some early fouls or layups, maybe a couple of put backs, we cause them to adjust. Then comes the threes.

  • SeeingRed

    I hope you don’t have to endure mourning x 2. One sad event per day is enough.