When it comes to the Missouri Valley, it’s Northern Iowa and Wichita State … and then everyone else. Both teams are ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 – No. 10 and No. 11, respectively – and are on a collision course toward a huge regular season finale this weekend. But first, each team has to get through a formidable opponent this evening.
#10 Northern Iowa
Led by senior forward Seth Tuttle, Northern Iowa (26-2, 15-1) has steamrolled through the regular season. At 6-8, Tuttle is a load in the paint. The big man is averaging 15.8 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game. Offensively, the Panthers are ranked 15th in the country in field goal percentage (.484).
But it’s the defense that really stands out for this team, ranked fourth in the country in points allowed, averaging just 53.9 points per contest.
Tonight, the Panthers host Evansville – a team that handed them one of their two losses on the season.
- Key Wins: Wichita State, Iowa, Virginia Tech, Northwestern
- Key Losses: at VCU, Evansville
- Player To Watch: Seth Tuttle, 15.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG
- Remaining Schedule: Evansville (Feb. 25), at Wichita State (Feb. 28)
#11 Wichita State
Currently tied atop the conference standings, Northern Iowa holds a slight edge over Wichita State after defeating the Shockers at home earlier this month, the first conference loss for for the Shockers in nearly two years. Junior guard Ron Baker (6-3, 222) is the team’s leading scorer with 15.6 points per game. With good size, Baker snags four boards a game and isn’t afraid of playing a little bully ball.
The Shockers travel to Indiana State tonight – a team that shouldn’t be underestimated, sitting right behind Wichita State in the conference standings.
- Key Wins: at Memphis, Seton Hall, Alabama
- Key Losses: at Utah, George Washington, at Northern Iowa
- Player To Watch: Ron Baker, 15.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG
- Remaining Schedule: at Indiana State (Feb. 25), Northern Iowa (Feb. 28)