My sincerest apologies to all Wichita State fans. If there’s one thing that every undefeated school doesn’t want to hear, it’s the question I’m posing right now. Can the Wichita State Shockers run the table and go undefeated?
On Tuesday night, Wichita State continued its best start in school history by improving to 22-0 defeating Loyola, 57-45. Cleanthony Early led all scorers with 23 points in the victory, and Tekele Cotton and Ron Baker both added seven points of their own. Point guard Fred VanVleet had a team-high eight rebounds and nine assists.
While the Shockers defeated the Ramblers by double-digits, they put together a second half that left much to be desired. After leading 36-16 at the half, they were outscored by Loyola 27-21 in the second half. Not only were they outscored, but the Shockers were out-hustled, as well.
If Wichita State wants to run the table and go undefeated, then they can’t afford to play sluggish basketball. Eventually, a team will take advantage of them and they won’t be able to recover like the did against Missouri State. Gregg Marshall needs to keep his players motivated and in the game or their perfect run will be spoiled.
As a team, they are most certainly good enough to head to the tourney with an unblemished record. Early is becoming a 20-points-a-game kind of player and Cotton could be the highest jumping player in college basketball. At 5-foot-11, VanVleet may be short, but he’s one of the more productive point guards in the country.
When you look at their schedule, they have no reason to not run the table. It’s extremely weak as they’ll play just three teams with an above-.500 record in their final nine games. In terms of offensive fire-power, their best opponent will be Indiana State who averages 74.7 points per game, 108th in college basketball.
They will have to play the second and third place teams in the MVC, Indiana State and Missouri State, but have already beaten both schools. Along with their overtime victory over Missouri State, they defeated Indiana State by 20 points earlier this month. They’ll play Missouri State in their final game of the season, so that should be a good one to watch.
Will the Wichita State Shockers go undefeated? I’m not so sure. They’ve been tested this season, but have overcome those challenges. However, they can’t afford to play sluggish basketball like the did in the second half on Tuesday night. Doing so will get them into trouble and hand them their first loss.
They may be 22-0, but there’s still a lot of college basketball left to play and the target on their backs only grows larger with each victory.