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Wichita State

vs.

Cincinnati

College Basketball

Pick

2/18/18

These teams were supposed to contend for the AAC title all season, but that hasn’t been the case with Cincinnati having a multiple game lead. The Bearcats have run away with the conference and a win here would put the cherry on top even with a trip to Wichita later in the season.all 

While the Shockers only have five losses, it’s been a disappointing season with home losses standing out, namely the one to SMU. But joining a new conference was never going to be easy. With a couple road games following this as well as the rematch with Cincy, a lot can still change for Wichita State.

In conference play, the Shockers have been hard to trust on the road already with losses to Houston and Temple, the only two relevant teams they’ve seen away from home. Unfortunately, Cincinnati is a relevant team, coasting through everyone at home from SMU and Houston to most recently a 34-point win over UCF. It’s going to take a major effort for anyone to beat Cincy on its home court, but Wichita State can at least be competitive.

The Bearcats have the most efficient defense by far in the conference, but the Shockers have the most efficient offense. Cincy’s offense is only slightly behind, but Wichita isn’t a slouch defensively, either. Maybe the biggest part to Cincy’s offensive success is offensive rebounding as they grab 40 percent of misses. WSU leads the AAC in defensive rebounding, making sure opponents grab around 20 percent of misses.

Diving into the matchups, these teams are just as similar. Both have decent overall size and length with the main size advantage coming with point guard Landry Shamet at 6-foot-4. Unsurprisingly, Shamet is the key for the Shockers, leading the team in points (14.8) and assists (5.2) per game. He’ll have a size advantage over Cane Broome and Justin Jenifer, although it’s not a guarantee those guys will be marking Shamet. Jarron Cumberland or Jacob Evans could be tasked with Shamet, but that will in turn give WSU a size advantage elsewhere.

The Shockers have decent length at every position and that’s partly due to Conner Frankamp’s smaller role on the team. Frankamp been phased out of the lineup in recent games and Wichita’s defense has picked up in the process. There will be an equally entertaining battle in the frontcourt with Cincy’s Gary Clark and Kyle Washington against Wichita’s Rashard Kelly and Shaq Morris. All of them are undersized big men that usually have athletic advantages over their counterparts. In addition to the starting talent, both teams are incredibly deep with the Shockers bringing slightly more quality off the bench with guys like Markis McDuffie and Darral Willis.

Wichita State has an experienced team that hasn’t fully put things together yet this season. Cincinnati also has experience, but things are working almost perfectly. This was the game everyone was talking about in November and it remains the case even with Wichita struggling a bit more. The Shockers have the talent to keep pace, but it’ll be hard to go against Cincy’s defense at home and if Wichita’s defensive struggles show up, expect Evans and Clark to be the ones to exploit that.

our pick - Cinci -6

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