According to Jerry Palm’s RPI, Wichita State moved up to No. 46 in the RPI. Its strength of schedule is No. 162. WSU is 2-1 against top 50 teams and 5-1 against the top 100. All we can say at this point is, WSU is giving itself a chance. It’s non-conference schedule works against it. Nothing can be done about that.
In 2007-08, Illinois State went to the NIT with a 24-9 record. It lost three times to MVC champion Drake, which finished the season with a No. 12 RPI. Illinois State finished with a No. 40 RPI. Would one regular-season win over Drake have put Illinois State in the NCAA Tournament? I don’t know. I do know WSU won’t have to wonder about that.
Big win for the MVC race. Big win for an NCAA Tournament resume. Big win for a BracketBusters opponent, which could be crucial for WSU’s NCAA hopes. Those games are announced Feb. 1.UNI got six points off its bench. WSU got 14, nine from Gabe Blair.In a low-possession, low-points game, WSU coach Gregg Marshall bought the Shockers some with good moves. Early in the second half, WSU switched to a zone after pressing. UNI turned it over on a shot-clock violation without getting a shot. That’s a veteran team confused. Late in the game, WSU ran a play out of a timeout to get J.T. Durley a layup for a 50-42 lead. It was a wide-open shot in a game where there couldn’t have been more than five open shots. It looked like a play WSU runs a lot. Tuesday, I think the Shockers saved it for the right time. Late in the first half, WSU ran a lob play after a timeout. David Kyles was open. Durley’s pass was high.Durley broke out of a scoring slump with 19 points. He had scored 15 in the two previous games.Unlike Texas Tech (WSU’s previous win over a ranked opponent), I don’t see Northern Iowa falling apart. The Panthers are very good and they will be in the MVC race until the end. In fact, with three MVC road wins in their pocket, they remain the favorite. WSU is a tough matchup for the Panthers, because the Shockers are quick enough and long enough to guard three-point shooters. Adam Koch only took one. Ali Farokhmanesh missed six of eight. No other Panther made one. There aren’t many teams deep enough and athletic enough to guard Koch and Jordan Eglseder without giving up open outside shots. I think Gabe Blair’s defense on Koch deserves a special mention. He kept Koch off the free-throw line, which is important. Koch looked frustrated late in the game. Blair is big enough to keep Koch off his game. Marshall is also impressed by UNI and coach Ben Jacobson. “They’re a team that exudes quiet confidence,” he said. “They’re not cocky at all. They’re not slapping the floor and doing all the clapping. They’re just good.”Poll voters who dock the Panthers significantly for losing at WSU aren’t paying attention.Superb games by Clevin Hannah and Graham Hatch. Hatch led WSU in rebounding for the third time in eight MVC games. Hannah made two baskets when the Shockers needed them. He picked Farokhmanesh to get David Kyles a layup when UNI was making a run. He stopped another UNI rally by taking a charge.Now WSU can watch third-place teams Illinois State and Creighton battle tonight. One of them will be 4-4.
Around the Valley
Indiana State rallies from 24 points down with 14 minutes to play. Then the Sycamores lose in overtime.