No. 19 Wichita State may very well be the hottest team in the country right now.
Heading into their Saturday afternoon date with Drake, the Shockers had lost just a single game in the 2012 calender year, a triple-overtime defeat to the Bulldogs on the road. I think its safe to say that Wichita State avenged that loss, and they manhandled Drake in Charles Koch Arena 81-58.
It completed what was a thoroughly dominating performance in a very good Missouri Valley Conference. The Shockers went 16-2 in the league, winning 16 of the last 17 games and taking home the league title by two games.
What’s more impressive is that they have been playing their best basketball of late. They have won their last six games by an average of 20.7 ppg. The worst team they have beaten in that stretch is currently sitting at 8-9 in the Valley. Included in that stretch is a 21 point win at Creighton and a 17 point win at a good Davidson team in BracketBusters play.
The scariest part?
“We haven’t played our best ball yet.”
That’s a quote from Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall, and it makes you think: what happens when this team does start playing their best ball? How much better can they get?
The Shockers are balanced offensively, they are scoring the ball as well and as quickly as they have under Marshall and they are still playing an elite level of defense. Throw in the fact that they have plenty of size inside, a number of terrific three point shooters and the most experience of any team with a chance of playing in the NCAA Tournament, and you get an idea of why every analyst in the country is telling you to keep an eye on this team in the NCAA Tournament.
If they do make a run, don’t call them a cinderella.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.
When it comes to discussing some of the game of basketball’s best players, specifically those who went directly from high school to the NBA, a question that’s often asked is where said player would have attended college if forced (by rule) to do so. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are among those who have been discussed in this manner, and in the case of LeBron he’s got connections to two programs within his home state of Ohio.
LeBron’s connected with the Ohio State program, which is outfitted by the Nike’s LeBron signature line, but there’s another program with an even closer connection. That would be Akron, which is led by head coach Keith Dambrot, and all he did was serve as LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s HS in Akron during the player’s freshman and sophomore years at the school. Also on those teams were two future Akron Zips in guard Dru Joyce and forward Romeo Travis.
Thursday the school announced that it would be honoring James, Joyce and Travis with bobble head dolls to be given out before Akron’s home games against Buffalo (February 16; Joyce’s bobble head), Bowling Green (February 26; Travis) and Ohio (March 1; James).
All three bobble head dolls are wearing Akron uniforms, which in the case of LeBron allows fans to think back and imagine what could have been. Season ticket holders guaranteed one bobble head per account (on each of the three giveaway days), with the first 750 fans in attendance to receive one as well.
The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.
Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.
As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.