Wichita St. is getting the game it has been waiting for. Today, the Shockers will get their chance at Bill Self and the Jayhawks. The two schools have not met since 1993 due to Kansas disagreeing to scheduling a game. Kansas owns the all time series 12-2 and Kansas has won the last five meetings handedly. Wichita’s last win came back in 1981. The schools have not played a game that has been within 20 points since 1989. The Jayhawks won the last meeting 103-54. There’s no way on this earth this one gets that out of hand.
This match-up has some calling it the biggest basketball game in the history of the state. Last year, the Shockers played in the best third-round game in the tournament. We may be saying the same deal this year.
Key to the Game
Wichita is allowing only 56 points per game, which ranks eighth best in the nation. This may be due to the Shockers playing in the Missouri Valley, but you still have to give them credit. Indiana’s 76 points was the most they had let up since Dec. 23. If Wichita can keep Kansas from scoring in rhythm, it will bode well for Gregg Marshall’s squad. Perry Ellis will lead the Kansas attack. Wichita’s defense will key on him, as he has been the best scorer for the Jayhawks this season. Wichita has relied on defense to stack up the wins, and it should continue to do the same thing.
Fred Van Vleet is a quick guard for the Shockers. He has shown the ability to blow by defenses and get right to the basket. He was able to score 27 against Indiana, which matched his career high, and made the most of his free throw attempts. He has scored 13.1 points per game, while averaging 5.3 assists and more than four rebounds per game. He has also shown he can rip other ball handlers as he averages two steals per game this year.
Kansas needs to protect the rim and deny Van Vleet the driving lane. If the Jayhawks stay in front of him, then the Shockers will have to find other scoring options. Ron Baker, the Shockers leading scorer, did not shoot the ball well in the second round. If Van Vleet goes quiet, Baker will have to find his shot.
I see Kansas taking the lead early in this one, but Wichita State will not give in and will put together a run to take the lead in the second half. The Shockers will make the most of their opportunity to play the Jayhawks and come away victorious, 72-68.
If Wichita does win this one though, does Kansas schedule them in the regular season so Wichita can’t say they won the last meeting?