Pick with Analysis
In probably the most underrated Game of the weekend, the two powers of the MVC take on each other. Yes, Wichita State is still a good team and they travel to Northern Iowa, the team on their tail in the standings.
While it’s unlikely that either of these teams get the No. 1 seed like the Shockers last year, they both could end up with a decent seed come March. If things continue like they are right now, both will be at least a five or six seed. Of course, we still have half a Conference season to go.
Wichita State has continued their dominance over the conference, much like last season. While the Shockers aren’t undefeated (two non-Conference losses), this is still a good squad that can give most teams trouble. No matter where the Game is, they are winning every MVC Game easily. They have won three straight road Games by at least 13 points.
The story is a little different for Northern Iowa, as this is a team that wins on efficiency and defense. Unlike the Shockers, they have had some close calls, and do have a loss at Evansville in their MVC opener. Defensively, they’ve held almost every one of their opponents in the 50s range or less. While that’s not quite Kentucky level, the Panthers are still playing elite defense. They held Northwestern to 42 and Iowa to 44 points earlier in the season.
However, the Shockers have owned the Conference as of late and they want to put their foot down. Will that happen, or can Northern Iowa be a legitimate threat?
WSU has the best offense in the Conference by far, although not as dynamic as last year’s group. Ron Baker is one of the best all around players in the MVC and he’s also a top shooter. They’d probably like to see more scoring out of point guard Fred VanVleet as he hasn’t been as good shooting this year, but he’s still one of the best in assist-to-turnover ratio (5.6-1.5) in the nation. Glue guys include Darius Carter and Tekele Cotton both have the ability to go for 20 points on a given night.
UNI plays great man-to-man defense, but they threw out a 3-2 zone last weekend against Illinois State and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them employ that again.
The Panthers are a deep team, but have one guy that gets it done every night. Seth Tuttle can do a lot of things, notching 15.3 PTS and 6.6 REB per Game. Darius Carter will likely draw that matchup and it will be fun to watch. Even if Tuttle gets going, UNI still needs more from other guys, whether it’s shooter Matt Bohannon or forward Marvin Singleton, they’ll need more points than usual.
If UNI stops Wichita State to fewer than 60 points, it’d probably be a surprise. Then again, the Panthers haven’t allowed more than 60 points in Conference play yet.
Wichita State still holds the torch in the Missouri Valley, but Northern Iowa could make things interesting with a win here and ultimately showing the Shockers they’ll have some competition in this year’s Conference Tourney.
Our Pick – Wichita St by2