By Ed Morgans @writered21 on March 17, 2014
Unbeaten and undisputed Missouri Valley Conference champions Wichita State have had more than their share of criticism rather than praise for a team with a 34-0 record. Supposedly having beaten no one, the truth is that anyone who doesn't know how good the Shockers are hasn't seen them play. Here are the five most important players for the Shockers as they are the top seed in the Midwest Region of the NCAA tournament.
Carter is absolutely the fifth-most important player on a Shockers team that goes four deep with standout players. But Carter has contributed about eight points and 4.5 rebounds per game, playing just 18 minutes.
A 6-foot-2 guard, Cotton doesn't always stand out during Wichita State games, but he will always make a few big plays to lead the team to key wins. He averages 10.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Cotton is also one of Wichita State's top 3-point shooters at nearly 38 percent.
A 6-foot-3 sophomore guard, Baker is second on Wichita State in scoring at 13.1 PPG and leads the team in free throw shooting at 85 percent. By the end of each Shockers win, Baker has also usually contributed some rebounds, assists and a couple steals.
Early is the most dynamic and dangerous player on the Wichita State roster. He leads the Shockers in both scoring (15.8 PPG) and rebounding (5.9 RPG). At 6-foot-8, 219 pounds, he's undersized against quality post players, but he still finds his way to the basket and can pull defenders outside with his jump shooting.
While Early is more dynamic and dangerous, VanVleet is the best and most important player on the Shockers. He does whatever Wichita State needs in a particular game to lead his team to win. He averages 12.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG and 5.3 assists per game. Add in his defense, and he's responsible for about 30 points per game in some form.
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